The Washington State Department of Enterprise Services (DES) closed its comment period for the Capitol Lake - Deschutes Estuary Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which provides different alternatives for the future of Capitol Lake.
More than 800 people submitted their comments about the draft EIS in the 62-day period from Wed., June 30 to Mon., Aug. 29. The comments came in after the DES released a 600-page study that described three alternatives for Capitol Lake.
These alternatives include 1) a Managed Lake, which encourages the maintenance of the 5th Avenue dam; 2) the Estuary Alternative, which suggests the removal of the dam to give way for a 500-ft wide opening and 3) a Hybrid Alternative which involves removal of the dam and construction of a 2,600 ft. wall that would create a saltwater reflecting pool.
The EIS also provided an analysis of the impact that these alternatives would have on the environment, water quality, safety, and cost.
So far, only a handful of organizations have expressed their preferred alternative. The city of Olympia has publicly shared its support for the Estuary alternative. Other cities including Lacey, and Tumwater has yet to issue a statement regarding the options indicated in the EIS.
Several agencies also forwarded their concerns. For example, while the Port of Olympia has yet to provide its preferred alternative, they shared their comments on the analysis and methodology used in the EIS. The Port also requested clarification on issues such as the maintenance and dredging of the Budd Inlet.
Based on the Port’s statement, the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and not the Port is responsible for maintaining the navigation channel for the West Bay of the Budd Inlet. The letter also encourages the involvement of the USACE in drafting the final EIS.
In addition, LOTT Clean Water Alliance also shared their concerns with the methodology used in the study. LOTT shared that DES should take a look at the overall impact that these alternatives would have on the waterbody, rather than focusing on a portion of the west bay. LOTT also suggested that the Estuary alternative is the most beneficial in terms of improving the water quality in the area.
DES is set to release the public comments by October and will use the suggestions to draft the final EIS which is scheduled to be completed by 2022.