OLYMPIA – The Estuary Alternative is the likely preferred alternative for long-term management of Capitol Lake – Deschutes Estuary, the Department of Enterprise Services (DES) told Executive Work Group (EWG) and Funding and Governance Work Group (FGWG) members during a joint meeting today. DES is conducting an environmental review process under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) for the Capitol Lake – Deschutes Estuary Long-Term Management Project that examines three alternatives – an Estuary, Hybrid, and Managed Lake.
DES used the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), comments on the Draft EIS, and stakeholder input to identify the likely preferred alternative. More information is available in these Frequently Asked Questions.
“DES received more than 850 comments on the Draft EIS, and we heard loud and clear that confirming a funding and governance approach for long-term maintenance of this waterbody is vital," said Carrie Martin, DES project manager for the EIS. "The Funding and Governance Work Group cannot reconvene and make meaningful progress without a likely preferred alternative identified.”
Technical work to finalize the EIS continues. While some findings may be revised, the cumulative result of the possible changes is unlikely to be significant enough to alter the likely preferred alternative, Martin said.
DES convened the FGWG, in part, to fulfill elements of a legislative proviso that calls for identifying shared funding and governance for long-term management of the waterbody. The FGWG will reconvene in late March to continue its work, recognizing its importance to the durability of the preferred alternative.
The FGWG is one of three advisory groups comprised of governmental partners and agencies who have jurisdiction or regulatory authority within the project area. DES and its project team have been engaging the advisory groups throughout the EIS process, along with a community sounding board.
DES expects to issue a Final EIS in the fall of 2022. The Final EIS will include a final decision regarding the preferred alternative. A summary of the primary focus areas for the Final EIS is also included in the FAQ.
Long-term management strategies and actions are needed to address issues in the Capitol Lake – Deschutes Estuary project area. Neither short-term actions, like dredging, nor a long-term management alternative can be implemented without an EIS. A Draft EIS that evaluates potential changes to the environment from construction and long-term management of the water body under the three long-term management options was released June 30, 2021. It discusses significant environmental impacts and benefits, as well as potential mitigation measures that would avoid or minimize adverse impacts.