Estuary option most likely choice for Capitol Lake


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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  • Honestyandrealityguy

    Sad. Lack of institutional knowledge. It will be SMELLY again, muddy, dirty, and ugly. Sad.

    Friday, March 18, 2022 Report this

  • KarenMcIrish

    Are the snails still there? Will this help destroy them? Can't wait to walk around and smell the odor.

    Friday, March 18, 2022 Report this

  • DanaMadsen

    We've seen this coming for a long time. The folks that want to cancel the lake have been determined and inexorable. I hope they all come on down and visit the giant mudflat that will appear where the lake used to be.

    Saturday, March 19, 2022 Report this

  • Olywelcomesall

    The draft EIS is very helpful in rating the different options for cost and benefits to water quality, people and overall ecological gain. The estuary option turned out to be less expensive, best for water quality overall benefit to people and all the critters. It also addresses the concerns about smell, snails, and overall aesthetics. Apparently the old tale about it being smelly before the dam went in was because raw sewage was dumped in the estuary. The smell was from human waste. That stopped in the 1940's. And notice that in other estuary restorations, like the Nisqually, the result is greater public use and interest, no offensive smell, and more critters. Like with other salt water bays in our area, Henderson and Eld Inlet, Mud and Chapman Bays, and Nisqually, salt water chases away many fresh water invasive species. Oh, and please notice that people seem to seek out living near them, paying much higher prices for that water front. Something must be okay about.

    Sunday, March 20, 2022 Report this