LOTT Board stands in favor of Estuary option for Capitol Lake

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A representative from the LOTT Clean Water Alliance shared the agency’s concerns regarding the possible impacts on water quality in Budd Inlet as a result of different alternatives provided in the Capitol Lake-Deschutes Estuary Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

During the Lacey City Council work session yesterday, Director of Environmental Planning and Communications for LOTT Lisa Dennis-Perez shared the LOTT board’s response to the various options presented by the Washington State Department of Enterprise Services (DES) for the future of Capitol Lake.

Estuary Alternative provides best water quality

 During her presentation, Dennis-Perez said that LOTT’s position is that the Estuary Alternative would provide the greatest improvements to the water quality in Budd Inlet. The Estuary option would remove the Fifth Avenue dam and give way for a 500 ft.-wide opening. This would allow the saltwater to come in and help the waterbody return to its original brackish state.

On the other hand, Dennis-Perez said, the Hybrid Alternative would bring some benefits in terms of improving the water quality in the area. Just like the Estuary Alternative, the Hybrid Alternative also would remove the dam and construct a 2,600-ft. wall to provide a saltwater reflecting pool.

However, Dennis-Perez warned that a decision to maintain the 5th Avenue dam would have a “significantly detrimental” impact on the water quality in Budd Inlet.

Oxygen depletion

 One of LOTT’s major concerns is maintaining safe levels of nitrogen in the water, according to Dennis-Perez. She shared that in line with their goal, the agency has made significant investments in facilities that remove nitrogen from the wastewater it processes.

She explained that nitrogen is generally responsible for excess algae growth which depletes the oxygen levels in the water and can cause irreparable harm to marine life, especially to fishes. She noted that the most common cause of oxygen depletion comes from septic tanks and other wastewater treatment.

Dennis-Perez pointed out that based on the Washington Department of Ecology’s study on the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), results show that Capitol Lake is responsible for 62 percent of the oxygen depletion in Budd Inlet.

She explained that while the TMDL showed that there is a severe water quality impairment in the East Bay portion of the Budd Inlet, the EIS fails to address the issue. “It appears that their water quality analysis is focused on the West Bay portion and not the entirety of Budd Inlet,” the LOTT director commented. 

With this, Dennis-Perez encouraged the DES to review their data to reflect the findings from the TMDL. She stated that LOTT wanted “DES to revise water quality analysis and fully incorporate the findings of the TMDL study regarding the significant impact of the lake on oxygen depletion in Budd Inlet.”

Perez also confirmed that LOTT’sboard had already sent a letter to the DES, recommending the Estuary alternative as the best option in terms of improving the water quality in the area.

Other agencies have also provided their comments regarding the EIS alternatives. Earlier this month, the City of Olympia also expressed their support for the Estuary Alternative.

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