Going by Capitol Lake at about 2pm today I saw the water level just about as high as I have ever seen it in 10 years.
Here's what the view of the 5th Avenue dam looked like from the 4th Avenue bridge at a little after 4pm:
Capitol Lake seen from switchback
Cupola Under Construction
Legislative Evening Scene, the dome, and other parts of the building are being cleaned.
Looking down a quiet street on Capitol Campus
I took these (poor quality phone) photos along the south shore of the Middle Lagoon of Capitol Lake this morning, on the path between Deschutes Parkway and the route under I-5. I don't remember these from the last time I walked that way, a few months ago.
This is a good opportunity to get a look at what an estuary here might look like. I know the decision on whether to convert the lake to estuary has been going on long enough that most people have settled into the polarity, but today is an opportunity for some real information.
Look at the lake, especially the Middle and Upper Lagoons. The meanders of the river are beautiful and more interesting than the filled lake. Especially in the Upper Lagoon and where Percival Creek enters the Middle Lagoon, the gravel and sand are cut by the flow in interesting channels.
I've never seen so many birds on the lake, where the lower water has created a lot more and varied habitat. Some birds are on the weeds revealed by the low water, eating, others are floating on the pools, and others are wading in the running waters of Percival Creek, after it falls through the jammed up weir below the Deschutes Parkway bridge.
Check out the smell, or the "stink" as the estuary opponents constantly assert. To my nose, it is mild and sweet, more pleasant than most trips to crowded malls. It is a natural smell, green, live, vibrant. It smells live, not dead or rotten. There's no smell of sewage. I like it.
Today's Olympian editorial suggests the future of Capitol Lake is this year's local political litmus test, much like the estuary building height issue was two years ago? Do you agree?
Pop on over to my blog to vote in the poll, and let your voice be heard!
Capitol Lake is a very controversial topic today. The debate is about whether the Lake should stay a lake, become an estuary, or become a dual-basin.
One may prefer the keep the lake as it is if they are concerned for the well being of the economy, but not as much for the ecosystem. The Lake is a main attraction for tourists. If it were to be restored as an estuary, events like lakefair would not have as much significance since there would be no lake to see. When people from all over the Puget Sound area come to lakefair, they will most likely shop at several local businesses. This is how keeping the Lake as it is helps the economy.
If Capitol Lake is made into an estuary, the salmon could continue their salmon run without being disrupted. Also, the mixture of salt and fresh water will kill some of the pollutants that can not live in salt water. An estuary, overall, is more for the well-being of the ecosystem.
A dual-basin is more of a compromise between a lake and an estuary. The plan would be to take down the dam, but keep a reflecting pool in order to reflect the beauty of the Capitol Campus.
So what will you decide? The economy based lake, the estuary that provides better overall care of the natural state of Capitol Lake, or the compromise of a dual-basin?
Capitol Lake is one of Olympia’s most recognizable landmarks. Whether taking a relaxing strolls or visiting the area because of Lake Fair, Capitol Lake is a popular destination. However, as some of you may already know, the lake is not without its faults. It faces several severe issues which include but are not limited to poor water quality (full of E. coli), invasive species, high temperatures, shallow depths (only 2 feet deep at parts), low dissolved oxygen levels, and too much sediment at its bottom. Numerous plans have been proposed to deal with the said issues. Of those, I personally feel that converting the lake into an estuary (by taking out the dam) would be the best choice. One reason for this is that it is more economically viable (cheaper) than the other options (only $75 million-$90 million compared to $79 million-$154 million to maintain the lake in its current form with dredging) of simply maintaining the lake. The second and by far the most important reason is that it will help resolve the issues faced by Capitol Lake the most. For starters, an estuary (along with some initial dredging) would solve the issue of too much sediment from the Deschutes River settling into Capitol Lake per year as an estuary would allow much of the sediment to disperse and/or flow through. This in turn would also solve the problem of high temperatures as more lake volume equals more water volume which equals lower temperatures so that local species are encouraged to reside in Capitol Lake. An estuary would also get rid of the invasive species because they cannot survive a salt water environment (what an estuary would bring). Water quality would be improved because an estuary would bring in new water to disperse the effect of pollutants. As you can see, an estuary would solve many of the problems currently faced by Capitol Lake.
some more photos from yesterday:
Here are some interesting portraits from around the time of the construction of the 5th Avenue dam on Capitol Lake, thanks to Tom Gutchy for scanning these old photographs and sharing.
Tom has more photos posted on Flickr, you can find many more from this era of dam construction here.