The Port of Olympia wants state funding for a sediment mitigation structure to be included in the interlocal agreement for the Deschutes Estuary restoration project.
The Port Commission expressed this when it adopted a resolution on Monday, September 11, stating that the Port wanted to be involved in developing an interlocal agreement for the funding, governance and management of the Deschutes Estuary.
The Washington State Department of Enterprise Services (DES) is currently spearheading a project to remove the Capitol Lake Dam and restore the lake into an estuary. The project is being developed in partnership with the Department of Natural Resources, Thurston County, Olympia, Tumwater, Squaxin Island Tribe, and LOTT Clean Water Alliance.
The parties involved in the project currently have a non-binding memorandum of understanding outlining the preliminary governance and funding of the project, so the next step would be to develop an interlocal agreement.
Part of the Port’s resolution states that the Port wants the interlocal agreement to include funding to implement a sediment mitigation structure that could replace the catchment function of Capitol Lake.
“The Port of Olympia further believes the interlocal agreement must specifically include state funding to implement a sediment mitigation structure of the scale and scope necessary to replace the catchment function served by the north basin of Capitol Lake,” the resolution specifically stated.
The commission also approved a second resolution expressing its support toward a watershed-wide approach to restoring the Deschutes Estuary.
The second resolution states that the costs of both the estuary restoration and the Budd Inlet sediment remediation projects can be equitably distributed among the parties involved in the project. The cleanup of Budd Inlet is a separate project by the Port as ordered by the Department of Ecology. However, the timing of this cleanup is crucial to the removal of the dam and the restoration of the estuary.
“The Port of Olympia believes the Capitol LakeDeschutes Estuary Long-Term Management Plan Estuary Alternative and Budd Inlet sediment remediation can be implemented with mutual support among the parties involved and with costs and benefits equitably distributed,” a portion of the second resolution stated.
These two resolutions left an impression that the Port wanted other jurisdictions to share the cost of dredging in Budd Inlet, which at least two people opposed during public comments. Tumwater Resident Carla Wulfsberg rejected the idea, saying that it implied that the Port was confident about the profitability of its marine operations.
Commissioner Joe Downing emphasized that the resolution, the first one specifically, calls for an engineering solution to mitigate the influx of sediment into Budd Inlet once the Capitol Lake Dam is removed.
“What we want to try to do in the design of the bridge removal and estuary creation is create a way to capture the sediment more easily, so that's really an engineering question,” Downing said
“It's not really a funding question in my opinion. The overall DES design is for the state to pay for the actual work all the way up to once the work is completed, then turn it over to all the local municipalities to maintain the existing conditions,” Downing added.
Environmental consultant Jim Maul echoed Downing and clarified that the dredging component of the project would be separate from the construction of a sediment mitigation facility.
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