Capitol Lake has been a landmark of Olympia ever since its creation in 1951. It's something that our community is proud of because of its beauty and historical importance, but the problems plaguing it raises questions about whether or not it should be kept as a lake, or restored to an estuary.
Right now, the lake does not meet water quality standards, has an abundance of invasive species, insufficient water levels, and high water temperatures. These problems could easily be resolved by restoring the lake into an estuary. The saltwater would provide insufficient living conditions for the invasive species and force them to stop reproducing. Getting rid of the dam would cause the sediment in the lake to flow into Puget Sound, and improve the lake's water levels, quality, and temperature.
Restoring the lake would cost much less than keeping it as it is and managing it. Restoring the lake, removing the dam, and rebuilding the bridge would cost $90 million at the most, as opposed to $154 million to dredge, get rid of invasive species, and raise dissolved oxygen levels. Also, after we created the estuary, we would have no excess finances, unlike where if we kept the lake as it is and managed it, we would have to pay to dredge it every 9 years. It costs less in the long run, so the money saved could be put towards something more useful for Olympia.
In my mind, it would be decisively wiser to forgo aesthetic appeal in favor of improving the health of the lake. However, there are many others who do not share my opinion. The longer this debate drags on, the more that Capitol Lake's well-being is at risk. Restoring the lake back into an estuary would be beneficial to both Olympia's economy and the lake's health. I believe that if the citizens of Olympia truly do care about the future of Capitol Lake, they would, when push comes to shove, choose the option that benefits the lake's health, even if it does reduce the beauty of our city.