Submitted by Don Russell, Lakewood.
Dear Lakewood City Council Members, the algae/aquatic plant growing season in Waughop Lake is now over. The lake has experienced its lowest surface water level in the 20 years that I have been monitoring the lake’s behavior.
The 2019 proposed $420,000 Tetra Tech prescribed alum treatment did not occur this year. Yet there was no significant harmful cyanobacteria blooms, only excessive aquatic plant growth that interfered with people fishing for bass and carp along its shoreline. This fact is significant and needs explanation.
In 2017 the City verified that Pierce College’s human sewage was intermittently being discharging into Waughop Lake. In 2007, I brought this situation to the attention of the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department and the City of Lakewood. At that time this discharge of sewage was attributed to a construction mishap on Pierce College’s campus. There was never any follow up to see if this 2007 noted sewage discharged ceased after the campus construction project was completed. These facts were unbeknownst by those who drafted the 2015 Brown & Caldwell Waughop Lake Management Plan that concluded that internal P loading from sediment (rather than external sewage P loading) was the proximate cause of the lake’s recurring harmful cyanobacteria blooms.
Human sewage is rich in nutrients, particularly in phosphorus that fuels harmful cyanobacteria blooms. Pierce College’s discharge of human sewage into Waughop Lake College finally, after 40 years, ceased in the winter of 2017. Once this external source of phosphorus loading of Waughop Lake was eliminated the lake began to transition from a turbid water toxic algae dominated state to a clear water aquatic plant dominated state. Such transformation will require an entirely different (than a in-lake alum treatment) lake water quality management strategy if the lake is to provide park goers future full beneficial uses (fishing, boating, wading, aesthetic enjoyment) of the lake.
Fortunately, Ecology’s APAM-NPDES general permit issued to the City of Lakewood does provide numerous approved chemical treatment options for managing excessive aquatic plant growth. However, lacking at this time is a City Council/staff designated Waughop Lake water quality manager whose responsibility is to (1) decide which of these many Ecology approved lake water quality management techniques is appropriate for application in aquatic plant (including invasive non native curly leaf pond weed) infested Waughop Lake and (2) to select and provide oversight of the City’s selected applicator of the appropriate combination of these Ecology approved chemicals (e.g., algaecides, herbicides and phosphorus inactivation agents).
Lacking such a City designated Waughop Lake water quality manager, the most environmentally responsible and least expensive option for the City, park attendees, and Pierce County Surface Water Management and Flood Control Zone private property owner ratepayers is to refrain from any chemical intervention of Waughop Lake’s current transition from a turbid water harmful cyanobacteria dominated state to a clear water aquatic plant dominated state.
All three independent studies done on Waughop Lake agree that the appropriate and environmentally prudent action to restore the safe beneficial use of nutrient impaired Waughop Lake is the dry and wet removal of the layer of nutrient polluted sediment that was laid down by 65 years of Western State Hospital’s disposal of slaughtered animal waste, manure and human sewage and 40 years of Pierce College’s intermittent discharge of human sewage into Waughop Lake.
At this critical time, I urge you to take informed, wise and environmentally prudent action to assure that the restoration of Waughop Lake’s safe beneficial recreational and aesthetic enjoyment takes place commencing in 2020 and beyond.Print This Post