Dear City of Lakewood Council Member,
To my Letter: The Pending Demise of Waughop Lake Courtesy of Ecology and Lakewood City Council appearing in the July 22, 2019 edition of The Suburban Times, City Council Mayor Don Anderson commented: “To paraphrase Mark Twain, word of the demise of Waughop Lake has been highly exaggerated. The City Council weighed proven science, cost and the opinion of (non self-appointed experts) and is proceeding with an alum treatment after receiving formal permission from the environmentally sensitive Department of Ecology.”
The City Council has not “weighed proven science, cost” and, importantly, the valid concerns expressed by the many citizens that Council represents. Rather It has accepted a story concocted by City staff and its hand picked Consultant. Nor is the “environmentally sensitive Department of Ecology” in compliance with relevant provisions of the Clean Water Act, legislatively enacted RCWs and approved WACs regarding pollution control. Accordingly, City Council should not proceed with an alum treatment of Waughop Lake for the many reasons cited by concerned citizens, in my above referenced Letter, and in my article titled: Waughop Lake: Facts and Laws Matter appearing August 6, 2019 in The Suburban Times.
I am one of the many concerned citizens that you presumably represent as a City of Lakewood Council member.
For the past twenty years I have been a City of Lakewood sponsored Pierce Conservation District volunteer lake water quality monitor. In this capacity I have monitored water quality in all the lakes located within City of Lakewood limits. I am familiar with and understand their unique physical, chemical and biological differences and behaviors.
In 2004 in response to the death of a dog that drank some of Lake Steilacoom’s cyanobacteria toxin laden water I advocated, and with the help of Representative Gigi Talcott help, sponsored a bill that was subsequently enacted by the Legislature. This bill led to the creation of Ecology’s Freshwater Algae Control Program.
For eight years I was the volunteer lake water quality monitor for Waughop Lake. I consider myself to be a vested stakeholder and am very concerned about its fate at the hands of the City Council, City staff and its Consultant. The first five years of my monitoring Waughop Lake was on behalf of the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department. The following three years of my volunteer monitoring of Waughop Lake was on behalf of the City of Lakewood. Tom McClellan has since replaced me as the City of Lakewood’s Waughop Lake water quality monitor. He too has a good understanding of its degraded water quality condition and what needs to be done to restore its Ecology designated beneficial uses.
I was the advocate and architect of the 2008 experimental use of calcium oxide/hydroxide in Waughop Lake. This experiment was intended to determine whether increasing the calcium concentration of Waughop Lake’s soft water would result in inactivating phosphorus being released from the lake’s nutrient polluted bottom sediments. The finding of this experiment was that the phosphorus loading in Waughop Lake’s bottom sediment was so extensive and heavy that the only practical solution was to remove the top meter of Waughop Lake’s bottom sediment and use/sell it as commercially valuable soil amendment (fertilizer) as was being done by Western State Hospital’s farming operation during the 1930s and 1940s.
I was a coauthor, along with Tom McClellan, Professor Jim Gawel of UWT and Professor Jeff Tepper of UPS, of the 2012 Waughop Lake Remedial Action Plan that considered all feasible and cost effective options for restoring the designated beneficial uses of Waughop Lake. The only effective and environmentally sound option to restore Waughop Lake was to remove the layer of nutrient polluted sediment laid down by 65 years of Western State Hospital’s discharging slaughtered animal waste, manure and human sewage followed by 40 years of Pierce College’s intermittently discharging human sewage into Waughop Lake. This Plan recognized that applying alum to inactivate the phosphorus in Waughop Lake’s bottom sediments was nothing more than a cyanobacteria bloom prevention mitigation strategy and that such an action would be counterproductive to the restoration of Waughop Lake’s safe beneficial recreational, aquatic life and aesthetic value uses.
My comment in regard to the $200,000 2017 Brown & Caldwell Waughop Lake Management Plan was that it failed to consider all lake management options. Two critical options omitted from this Plan were (1) take no action until funding for sediment removal became available option, and (2) light seasonal applications of a combination of APAM-NPDES general permit approved algaecide and herbicide as mitigation until funding for sediment removal became available option. It is this later cost effective lake management option that is used by shoreline property owners on all the other water quality impaired and stakeholder managed lakes in Lakewood.
Instead of an open, transparent, all are invited and encouraged to participate and contribute to the effort to restore the beneficial uses of Waughop Lake, City Council has decided to entrust the future of Waughop Lake to City staff and its alum treatment advocating Consultant, who incidentally stands to gain financially by his participation in this unique and exclusive City staff/Consultant arrangement.
We Waughop Lake citizen stakeholders have been purposely shut out of the Waughop Lake management process by City staff and acquiescent City Council. Furthermore, we concerned citizens have been contemptuously and disparagingly described by Mayor Don Anderson as being “self-appointed experts” who dare question the wisdom of the City Council and expertise of City staff and its hand picked Consultant.
It is time for City Council members to face the truth. Do what environmental laws require. i.e., invite and encourage active citizen involvement and participation with City Council and staff in determining the appropriate fate of Waughop Lake.
Sincerely, Don Russell, Lakewood