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Final Chance For Public Input On Scope Of State’s Study For Capitol Lake’s Future

Rachel La Corte
AP Photo
With the state Capitol in the background, walkers and runners enjoy a brisk, sunny day at Capitol Lake, on Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014, in Olympia, Wash.

Olympia’s Capitol Lake was designed to be an ornamental reflecting pool to compliment the dome of the legislature. But the lake is in trouble.  A $4-million dollar study of options to fix it is underway.

Public comments on what should be included in the study will be heard Monday at a meeting in Olympia.

Capitol Lake was created when the Deschutes River was dammed in 1951 and has been filling up with sediment ever since.  It now holds about 60 percent less water. It’s violating water quality standards because of high levels of phosphorus that cause algae blooms. It’s been closed to recreation since 2009 because of invasive mud snails.

Options for fixing it include removing the dam and allowing the natural estuary to return, keeping the lake through regular dredging and a hybrid of those two approaches.

Linda Kent is with the state’s agency that manages the lake, the Department of Enterprise Services. She says stakeholders have agreed on common goals as they work toward finding solutions.

“Whatever alternative is chosen should improve water quality. It should manage sediment accumulation, and future sediment deposits. It should enhance ecological functions and it should restore active community use,” Kent said.

She says right now the public has a chance to help frame the environmental impact statement that will ultimately decide the lake’s future.

"What we're asking people is what should we be studying? What's important? What qustions should this study be answering at the end?" Kent said.   

Comments are open until November 13th.   

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment beat for KNKX, where she has worked since 1999. From 2000-2012, she covered the business and labor beat. Bellamy has a deep interest in Indigenous affairs and the Salish Sea. She has a masters in journalism from Columbia University.
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