Capitol Lake and the related Deschutes Estuary will most likely be reverted into its original brackish water state, according to a Washington State Department of Enterprise Services press release issued Wednesday.
The department cited its draft Environmental Impact Study (EIS), from which most of some 850 comments advocated returning the lake into an estuary.
“The marine estuary would restore one of the most rare habitats that we've got around,” said limnologist Jonathan Frodge in the draft EIS. “And not only would I agree extending it out the study area out of Boston Harbor, but I would also include the nonpoint sources coming down from the Deschutes River or none of these options will give us what we want.”
Enterprise Services decided on the estuary option to move the project for funding consideration by Washington State Legislature during the 2023 legislative session and “recognizing the need to move forward from a decades-long political stalemate.”
In its FAQ document, Enterprise Services stated that choosing a preferred alternative will empower the Funding and Governance Work Group (FGWG) to continue its work of finding long-term funding and governance on the project which will in turn help in making a final EIS.
The Capitol Lake Deschutes Estuary project FGWG is composed of the City of Olympia, City of Tumwater, LOTT Clean Water Alliance, Port of Olympia, Squaxin Island Tribe, Thurston County, Washington State Department of Enterprise Services and Washington State Department of Natural Resources.
Although the estuary option is the most likely to be implemented, Enterprise Services clarified in its EIS that the management alternatives may be modified to better meet project goals and purposes.
The FGWG will reconvene on March 30 to continue work toward a final shared long-term funding and governance approach for the Estuary Alternative.
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