Submitted by Don Russell, Lakewood.
I am the owner of a shoreline property on American Lake that has been in my family for 114 years.
Sadly, during my 93 years, I have witnessed the ongoing degradation of water quality in lakes, streams, ponds, and wetlands throughout the City of Lakewood and Pierce County. As a result, I have become all too familiar with the multiple, yet seldom successfully implemented, Brown & Caldwell studies that have been done over the past 32 years in the Chamber-Clover Creek basin.
I along, with Kris Kauffman and Tom McClellan, have served the Lakewood-funded Pierce Conservation District as volunteer water quality monitors on American Lake, Gravelly Lake, and Lake Louse for the past 23 years, and Tom and I on Waughop Lake for the past 15 years.
In addition to serving as water quality monitors, Tom and I in 2012 co-authored a no cost to the City, no alum treatment, Waughop Lake Remedial Action Plan. The City rejected our proposed plan and instead elected to hire Brown & Caldwell at the cost of $250,000 to develop a Waughop Lake Management Plan. Five years later, in 2017, the B & C Plan was published. The B & C Plan recommended that a layer of nutrient-polluted bottom sediment be removed (dredged) from the lake as had been the recommendation of our 2012 Remedial Action Plan and an earlier study. Also noted in the 2017 B & C Plan was a $210,000 interim alum treatment that could be applied in order to prevent recurring toxic algae blooms until funding for sediment dredging could be acquired.
In lieu of this recommendation, Lakewood engaged Tetra-Tech in 2018, to determine the recommended alum dosage to be applied. The alum dosage was five times that recommended by Brown & Caldwell, at double the alum application cost. As a result of that 2020 unprecedented in dosage alum application the adverse environmental impact on Waughop Lake of that treatment remains evident today. I have advised that a $50,000 plus or minus chemical application this spring could mitigate the ongoing adverse ecological effect of the 2020 80 mg Al/L treatment.
Now the Lakewood City Council has to make a decision in regard to approving the funding and execution of Brown & Caldwell’s $300,000 Clover Creek 1% chance in one hundred years flood-mitigation study. This study proposes construction of a levee to prevent the flooding of I-5, as well as homes and businesses within a federally designated flood zone.
I propose that rather than put a 30-million-dollar band-aid on a 1% chance of flooding, that Pierce County Surface Water Management fulfill its responsibility to responsibly manage the retention, cleansing, and infiltrating precipitation driven stormwater runoff occurring within the County’s up gradient Clover Creek basin extensive network of constructed stormwater drainage ditches. Such an approach would be facilitated by utilizing the soon-to-be-published USGS hydrogeologic USGS study of the area. Lakewood, together with Pierce County should develop a plan to construct a large wetland/stormwater, detention, cleansing, and infiltration pond located between Spanaway Loop Road and JBLM.
Since the Lakewood reach of Clover Creek’s problem is no in stream flow during the dry season any available governmental funding should be spent by Pierce County Surface Water Management on addressing a real world rather than imaginary problem.
Simply stated, Clover Creek is currently unable to sustain year-round in stream flow because during the dry season the precipitation recharged shallow aquifer groundwater level is below the bottom of its stream bed. A properly located, constructed Pierce County Surface Water Management managed stormwater detention, cleansing, and infiltration pond would not only mitigate the speculative 1% chance of flooding within Lakewood and JBLM but would assure year-round flow to the lower reaches of Clover Creek, Lake Steilacoom, and Chambers Creek.
The City of Lakewood Council should not advocate spending $30 million on a solution to a problem that does not exist!
There are two previously published and contrasting articles from April 2022 describing the aftermath adverse effect of Waughop Lake’s March and July 2020 80 mg Al/L alum treatment. You can read them at the following links:
- Waughop Lake a Victim of Irresponsible Stewardship by Don Russell
- Stewardship of Waughop Lake: A Response by Jim Kopriva Lakewood’s Communications Manager