Budd Inlet cleanup will be the Port’s biggest project in decades


A $100 million project to clean up Budd Inlet is set to be the Port of Olympia’s biggest project in decades. The Port held a work session on September 19, to discuss their potential approach to cleaning the Budd Inlet from legacy contamination.

The cleanup of the area complies with an agreed order from the Washington State Department of Ecology to investigate and clean contamination in the area. The contamination is likely to have accumulated due to industries from the 1920s to the 1980s, such as plywood manufacturing, wood treatment, and factories that burned salt-laden wood.

The cleanup, which involves dredging of the area, will also accommodate the incoming flow of sediments should the Capitol Lake Dam be removed as part of the Deschutes Estuary project.

“Increased sediment from Capitol Lake dam removal will mean 115,000 cubic yards each year that will be added into the West Bay Area,” Port Executive Services Director Lisa Parks said.

“That will impact not only the port's facilities but other community infrastructure. It's important that this project actually clears the way for that sediment to occur and make it potentially even more manageable,” she added.

Potential approach

Rob Webb, president of Dalton Olmsted Fuglevand, an engineering firm working with the Port for the project, explained how they will go about cleaning Budd Inlet.

The Port will be dredging several portions of the area such as along the navigation channels. Webb said that the depth of water along the navigation channel is no longer what it used to be. Parts of it are below the federally authorized depth for the channel while other parts are below the design depth within the marina.

The Port will also dredge on Swanton Marina and the south of West Bay and East Bay, specifically on Moxley Creek where Webb said a basin can be made. This will help with future dredging as sediments will end up in the basin.

“It’s a lot easier to dredge material when it's in one spot, and kind of thick, as opposed to spread far and wide,” Webb said.

While a small portion of the dredged material will be dumped into deep water, most of the material will be reused onsite for habitat creation and sea level rise measures. Webb added that an old log pond could also be used for dumping the material.

Next steps

The Port will be working with Ecology to finalize the remedy they want to implement for the cleanup. Part of this stage will be approving contract extensions with current consultants such as Gemini Environmental Strategies, which provides overall coordination; Cascadia Law Group, which assists with legal and regulatory issues; Cascadia Policy Solutions, which helps with strategic policy and funding issues; and Lund Faucett, which helps communicates the project to stakeholders.

The first stage of this project will cost $4,177,340, half of which will be covered by Ecology and the other half by the Port under an existing remedial action grant as part of the agreed order.

According to Jim Maul, who represents Gemini Environmental, the action grant will need to be modified to adjust for the scope of the project.

“The original scope of the grant actually anticipated that that would cover the cleanup, but we've since realized that the scope of the cleanup is going to be larger,” Maul said.

The Port also plans to spend an additional $362,503, which will not be covered by the remedial action grant. This involves legal work and investigation related to insurance coverage and developing agreements with stakeholders for additional work.

Once a remedy has been selected around the spring of 2023, the Port will have to secure funding before finalizing contracts for design and permitting by the fall of 2024.

The Port estimates to spend $4,192,434 for this project’s second stage. No funding source has been secured, but the Port is already seeking several funding sources.

Dredging will start around the summer of 2025 and must be finished before the removal of the Capitol Lake Dam. The Port expects to spend more than $100 million for this project stage.

Port Commissioner Amy Evans Harding noted the immense scope of the project.

“If we have a $100 million project over five years, and the port is administering that $20 million a year, we're looking at over doubling our operating budget, so I think that's something to think about as far as organizational capacity. This is a massive change in employees and scope,” Commissioner Amy Evans Harding said.

Port Commissioner Jow Downing agreed, saying that the project “dwarfs anything that the Port has done in the last decades.”

Public expresses support and concern

Public comment was entertained, with different groups voicing their opinion on the project.

Jeff Dickison, a representative of the Squaxin Island Tribe, expressed their support for the project.

“The tribal members that fish these waters are exposed to the waters and sediments out here… so it's very important to the tribe to see this through,” Dickison said.

“We are certainly committed to helping out on any of the funding sources that it is deemed appropriate,” Dickison added, saying that they can help pursue funding at the federal level.

Members of the Olympia Yacht Club also showed support for the project. However, Chris McCabe, chair of the club’s community and government affairs committee, expressed concern regarding the impact of the removal of the Capitol Lake Dam.

“We think that based on the draft environmental impact statement, there are pretty gross underestimations of the amount of sediment that could come out of the lake should the dam be removed,” McCabe said.


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  • johnvaneenwyk

    Any cleanup of Budd Inlet is welcome. Thank you, Port for doing this. Please also consider urging the Thurston County Commissioners to reinstate the required inspection of septic systems, as well as outlawing use of lawn fertilizers. Budd Inlet is dead. There is very little wildlife, virtually no waterfowl, and fishing (what little there is) and shellfish collecting is hazardous to health. Dredging is great for the industrial waste, but the continuing citizen waste is finishing off Budd Inlet's demise.

    Wednesday, September 21, 2022 Report this

  • stat1014

    A watershed approach will be needed for successful management of pollutants and sedimentation in Budd Inlet. That is, there is much more to consider with this project than impacts from removal of Capitol Lake Dam. Water quality, including sedimentation issues, impacting the Budd Inlet area are a product of cumulative environmental/land use disturbances throughout the watershed over many years. These “legacy” disturbances can continue to degrade the Budd Inlet area if not adequately “healed” naturally, or by directed environmental restoration measures. Bed-load movement is a natural part of free-flowing river systems, however the magnitude of bed-load movement can be highly influenced by land use practices across the landscape. Those planning, managing and implementing the Budd Inlet restoration project would do well to consider these more wholistic factors when deciding the most effective approach or approaches to achieve desired objectives.

    Wednesday, September 21, 2022 Report this