Let me start this blog post by saying that I love my new home. We moved to Olympia from Arizona in the spring of 2012 by choice. I could have moved anywhere in the Pacific Northwest (I grew up in the northwest) but we chose Olympia. Simply put, I love Olympia, WA. With that said, there is one thing that I really feel that Olympia should be embarrassed about and that is Capitol Lake.
For those that don’t know, Capitol Lake is a central feature of downtown Olympia. Part if it was designed to be a reflecting pool for the capital building and it is the home to a wide variety of wildlife. It has wonderful walking paths around it and on a nice day it a very busy place. I am told that “back in the day” that it was used for things like water skiing and was a popular place for Olympians to swim on a hot day. Sadly, those days to seem to have been long past.
At some point in the recent past the lake has been infected with an invasive snail that has prompted the lakes closure to all recreational activity. While you can still walk around the lake and enjoy the parks, you can’t get in the water. The problem is that the invasive snails are really only a small part of the problems that Capitol Lake is facing. Years of inaction have caused the lake to silt up to where it really isn’t much more than a marsh these days. All one has to do is walk around the lake in the summer and you will see that the lake has gotten so shallow that the grass growing on the bottom actually breaks the surface in many places. To add even more insult to injury, a computer malfunction this week caused the dam that holds the lake back to open it’s gates and let all the lakes water to escape into Puget Sound. This image was a snapshot I made today of the middle basin, minus the water that would have normally been there.
There is a lot of debate over what should be done with the lake, but it seems to be down to 2 possible solutions, neither of which will most likely happen any time soon. The first is to go back to dredging the lake to remove the huge amount of silt that has accumulated over the last few decades. The second is to remove the 5th Ave. dam and allow it to return to being an estuary. There are good arguments for and against each possible solution, and while I tend to lean towards the idea of dredging the lake, something needs to be done sooner rather than later.