Dam removal part of plan to clean Olympia’s Capitol Lake

Experts say that allowing natural tidal flows in the area where the Deschutes River meets the Puget Sound will help collect less sediment and cleaner water.

OLYMPIA, Wash – What was supposed to be a reflective pond on the Washington State Capitol Campus in Olympia has turned into an ecological mess.

The man-made lake was closed to the public in 2009 after invasive species were found in the water that did not meet state water quality standards.

After decades of research to find ways to restore and clean up the 260-acre waterway, the state chose to return the area to its more natural state: an estuary.

“It fits our history, but it will be managed in a way that fits today’s modern environment,” said Project Manager Tessa Gardner-Brown.

Gardner-Brown said the option chosen by the state included a plan to remove enough sediment to fill an estimated 750 Olympic swimming pools and to demolish a dam built in 1949 to create an artificial lake.

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She said allowing natural tidal flows in the area where the Deschutes River meets the Puget Sound would lead to less sediment collection and cleaner water.

“It will create a diverse coastal environment, ecologically diverse, visually diverse, introduce new boardwalks to the community, as well as manage sediments,” explains Gardner-Brown. area moves downstream when that dam is removed,” explains Gardner-Brown.

Plans include allowing public swimming and the use of boats again.

“It was exciting,” said Gardner-Brown. “It sets out a clear path forward to restoring the use of this beautiful part of Olympia and the larger community.”

The plan was endorsed by the city of Olympia and the Squash Island Tribe.

Plans include replacing the existing dam and the Fifth Avenue Bridge with a new bridge that includes bike lanes and pedestrian walkways.

Carrie Martin, environmental planner with the Washington Department of Corporate Services, said all the work could take more than 13 years to complete.

Martin said cost estimates range from $137 million to $247 million. She hopes state, federal funding and grants will pay for the work.

Martin adds, doing the work now is the most cost-effective strategy.

“Environmental conditions will continue to get worse, and the longer we wait to make improvements, the costs will continue to escalate,” says Martin.

Click here to view the full environmental impact study for the project.

https://www.king5.com/article/tech/science/environment/dam-removal-plan-clean-capitol-lake/281-d58bf0d2-86c9-4c81-a14f-8228e895567b Dam removal part of plan to clean Olympia’s Capitol Lake

Edmund DeMarche

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