Sediment control planning is the focus of Deschutes Estuary work this year, state tells port


The Washington Department of Enterprise Services (DES) continues to plan the removal of the 5th Avenue Dam and restoring the Deschutes Estuary. For this year, DES will focus on completing an interlocal agreement between project partners, as well as determining future measures to mitigate the buildup of sediment due to the removal of the dam, a team of consultants told the Port of Olympia Commission on Monday, January 29.

Project Director Ann Larson from DES, along with consultants from Floyd|Snider and Eco Northwest, gave a presentation to the commission to discuss their next steps and to refresh the topic, especially since the commission has new members.

The Port signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on October 2022 outlining the project's governance and funding. Other parties involved in the MOU were Olympia, Tumwater, Thurston County, LOTT Clean Water Alliance, Squaxin Island Tribe, and the state.

The MOU was non-binding, so the next step is for the parties to sign an interlocal agreement. Lorelei Juntunen, president of Eco Northwest, said that DES is legislatively mandated to have the agreement signed by the end of the year.

“That might feel a little aggressive… but we have good hope that the very good work that was done in getting the MOU together and the agreements that were made among all the partners that signed on to that MOU will provide a really solid foundation,” Juntunen said.

Juntunen added that the agreement would incorporate potential measures to minimize the deposition of sediment at the port and marina.

Sediment mitigation measures

Tessa Gardner-Brown from the consulting firm Floyd|Snider said that they conducted an analysis of possible measures but found that they had yet to produce any significant results. These measures included what Gardner-Brown said was a dredge bench, a structure, and a combination of both. Gardner-Brown added that they will meet with representatives from the marinas next week to discuss more possible measures.

The team will also work on potential habitat designs using dredged material. They will analyze these designs and the possible sediment mitigation measures using numerical modeling to determine their impact on sediment deposition.

“We should have an understanding of that about mid-year,” Gardner-Brown said adding, “We'll bring it back to this group and the funding and governance workgroup… and then we can make a decision at that time whether we bring updated values into the interlocal agreement or if we hold those because the existing values because represent a reasonable worst case.

Design documents

Gardner-Brown added that they also aim to complete the conceptual design by mid-2024 and the 30% design by the end of the year. She said that a key component of this phase will be to engage with stakeholders from February to March to integrate their input into the design.

She also highlighted that around mid-2024, they will need additional funding to proceed with the design and permitting of the project.

The construction of the Deschutes Estuary is estimated to cost $271 million, which the state will wholly fund. Each party involved in the MOU and future interlocal agreement, excluding Squaxin Island Tribe, will contribute to cover the costs of sediment management activities. Gardner-Brown estimated that the Port will spend around $120,000 every year for the length of the project.


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  • bonaro

    How much will it cost to have the Army Corp of Engineers to dredge the harbor...again?

    Anybody tracking this fiasco?

    Wednesday, January 31 Report this

  • Boatyarddog

    Gardner/Brown needs to involve Stakeholders now.

    If they are talking about signing The interlocal Agreement (IA) by the end of the year.

    Past commissioners, wasted alot of time doing little about the Dredging Issues.

    Also, During the period of time,

    2016-2020 created alot of Drama circulating around Bad Managment...

    This is why THOSE COMMISSIONERS were NOT reelected and A New E.D. is now being sought.

    Feels Again that ALOT of time was lost on design options and involving stakeholders in commenting on these options.

    These designs do little to mitigate sediments, looking at the presented materials here.

    Why not use the areas between 4th Ave. and I-5 for settling basins?

    That has been used in the past days.

    Wednesday, January 31 Report this

  • Bobwubbena

    The finding that the State's sediment models showed no real successful design is not surprising. What is surprising is that Gardner-Brown from the Consultant Team for the State says that this won't be a problem since the "failed model test" represents the "reasonable worst case for sediment control" (previous State studies said 6 feet of sediment build up in the Port's Turning Basin will occur every 6 to 10 years without the dam in place)

    The article also quotes the State DES saying that the State will be required to fund the $271 million construction project. (how do they commit future legislatures to multimillion dollar funding by the end of this year?) Many stories, few reliable answers to complex questions. Who pays the piper? Who is checking or validating the science and monitoring before and after benefits?

    The Port's Cleanup project now underway is estimated to cost from $150 to $200 million and must be completed before the State's Estuary project can proceed. This project will provide real value to the community. The dam removal, not so much. Earlier State EIS Consultant Cost Estimates were much higher, and they did not include answers to the DES created frenzy about the New Zealand Mud Snail, the Port's $200 million Clean Up project, or the annual sediment management/dredge costs (paid for by whom).

    Oh yes. don't forget they are required to have a firm MOU from our City Council and other "Stakeholders" on who is paying what by the end of this year---and they need more money now from the legislature (or the Governor) to even advance the design so they can develop reliable cost estimates to ask the Legislature and the City Council for specific amounts to include in the 2024 MOU. Stay tuned for more interesting answers to the above.

    Wednesday, January 31 Report this

  • Boatyarddog

    Everytime Dredging occurs here, it releases more pollution into Budd Bay!

    It is undisputed evidence.

    What we see now is the business sector, ie: Marina owners, the Ports Logging and Brake Bulk Industries Clawing for more reasons to continue doing "Business as usual"

    So Allowing reintroduction of pollutants into Budd Bays Ecosystem Continues the Cycle of Destruction found in the Lack of A Healthy Marine Ecosystem.

    The Elephant in The Room is the Ports Marine Terminal and its lack of Productive Income.

    Operating in the Red for Decades!

    Its time to let the Marine Terminal Go.

    Sea level rise is already an Issue here.

    And it Will Get Worse!

    Sediment and the Constant re dredging is Costly and repollutes the ecosystem dreging will not be required near as much.

    And the Waterfront can be developed into Housing providing a Very Good Income for the Stakeholders in T.C.

    No more Polluting the Bay.

    This Port Says it is committed to

    Enviromental Stewardship.

    I say Horsehocky.

    This has been kicked around for years.

    Past Commissioers Have Failed Us.

    Its time the New Additions to A New Age at the Port take a stand

    Close the Marine Terminal.

    Union Longshore can Commute to Tacoma.

    NO MORE Large Scale Bandages for a Bleeding Out Port Economy.

    END IT!

    Wednesday, January 31 Report this

  • SecondOtter

    Having witnessed both the removal of a dam on Beatty Creek (a small stream near the Delphi golf course

    and the removal of the dam on the Elwha, I can say that sediment will be flushed far faster than you might believe. Beatty Creek, without dredging, was flushed of sediment and brought down tons of gravel once the culvert/dam was removed, and within no more than two weeks, salmon smolts were swimming in it. The Elwha wasn't dredged, it dumped a lot of sediment into the ocean, approximately 175 acres of sand at the mouth of the river, and the river itself is full of native fish like several salmon species, steelhead, etc.

    The force of moving water can move sediment and gravel faster, cheaper and with less problems than engineers.

    Wednesday, January 31 Report this