Submitted by Don Russell, Lakewood.
The 2017 Brown & Caldwell Waughop Lake Management Plan prescribed the removal of the layer of nutrient polluted sediment laid down by 65 years of Western State Hospital’s discharging slaughtered animal waste, manure and human sewage into Waughop Lake as the appropriate action for restoring the lake’s safe beneficial uses.
The Plan suggested that until such sediment removal funding becomes available an interim $210,000 alum treatment could be applied to prevent the lake’s recurring harmful cyanobacteria blooms. Believing that such a treatment cost was understated, City staff sought the advice of a second consultant, Tetra Tech. Tetra Tech’s enhanced and prescribed alum treatment plan has a price tag of $420,000. The doubling of the cost of an alum treatment to be paid for by City and Pierce County private property owner stormwater management and flood control zone district ratepayers was apparently of no concern to City Council members.
In 2017 at the time that the Plan was published and approved by City Council it was discovered that the college’s sewer system had a cross connection with its stormwater drainage system. This cross connection has allowed 40 years of Pierce College’s raw sewage to intermittently discharge into Waughop Lake. This cross connection was eliminated in 2017.
The lake’s response to the discontinuance of intermittent raw sewage discharge into the lake over the past three years has been its gradual transition from a turbid water harmful cyanobacteria dominated state to a clear water excessive aquatic plant growth dominated state.*
An alum treatment of Waughop Lake to prevent recurring harmful cyanobacteria blooms is no longer required nor is it a prudent interim mitigation action.
What will be required once the lake begins to fill this winter will be the removal of all the dead dry land vegetation that will be floating on its surface, followed by either no action or herbicide applications to suppress excessive aquatic plant growth. These are the two appropriate interim measures to be taken by the City until adequate funding for sediment removal as prescribed by Brown & Caldwell’s 2017 Waughop Lake Management Plan is obtained by the City.
The City Council members need to be advised by citizens concerned about the present condition of Waughop Lake to reassess their approval of the Waughop Management Plan’s prescribed $210,000 interim alum treatment, now City staff/Tetra Tech inflated $420,000 alum treatment, since an alum treatment application is now no longer applicable to Waughop Lake’s while it is transitioning from a harmful cyanobacteria infested state to an excessive aquatic plant growth infested state.
What ever happened to the vision of a City owned Waughop Lake that becomes and is managed by the City staff as the Crown Jewel of Fort Steilacoom Park?