The Lakewood City Council took a step forward in the cleanup of Waughop Lake Monday night when it approved a lake management plan aimed at restoring the water quality of the 30-acre lake.
The plan outlines two options for addressing recurring toxic algae blooms in the lake: applying alum or dredging the lake bottom.
Adding alum treatments is a temporary solution that would stop the toxic blue-green algae that has plagued the lake for several decades.
Dredging the lake is a permanent solution, but comes with a hefty price tag.
The City Council agreed a permanent fix is the ideal course of action but the city doesn’t have the tens of millions of dollars needed to complete the job.
Another factor at play is ownership of the lake.
Currently Lakewood leases the 350-acre Fort Steilacoom Park, including Waughop Lake, from the state.
The city has asked the state to transfer ownership and is awaiting response from the state Legislature. A formal request was submitted this legislative session.
In 1972 Pierce County leased the land from the state to create the park. Pierce College also leased some of the land for educational purposes.
After incorporation Lakewood joined the agreement and shared maintenance of the park with Pierce County. Over the years that relationship changed and by 2008 Lakewood was responsible for maintenance and operations of the park.
By 2014 Lakewood assumed the lease with the state, removing Pierce County from the equation.
Under the agreement the city is on the hook for all maintenance and upkeep at the park, which has been the long-standing expectation of the state since its first agreement with the county.
To date Lakewood has invested more than $10 million in park improvements at Fort Steilacoom Park.
The next step for management of the lake is to further research costs associated with clean up and any necessary permits so that when the city takes ownership of the property it can move forward with its lake cleanup plan.
Adopting the plan improves the city’s ability to pursue local, state, and federal grants to address the water quality issues and gives city staff the ability to add the proposed work to the 2018 stormwater management capital improvement plan and consider it as part of an upcoming stormwater rate analysis.