The Lakewood City Council took a step forward in the cleanup of Waughop Lake Monday night when it approved a lake management plan aimed at restoring the water quality of the 30-acre lake.
The plan outlines two options for addressing recurring toxic algae blooms in the lake: applying alum or dredging the lake bottom.
Adding alum treatments is a temporary solution that could last nearly a decade. If added to the lake it would stop the toxic blue-green algae that has plagued the lake for as long as anyone can remember.
Dredging the lake is a permanent solution, but comes with a multi-million dollar price tag.
Currently Lakewood leases the 350-acre Fort Steilacoom Park, including Waughop Lake, from the state.
The city has asked the state to transfer ownership and is awaiting response from the state Legislature. A formal request was submitted this legislative session.
In 1972 Pierce County leased the land from the state to create the park. Pierce College also leased some of the land for educational purposes.
Years after it became a city Lakewood entered into an agreement with Pierce County to share maintenance of the park. Over the years that relationship changed and by 2008 Lakewood was the lead agency responsible for maintenance and operations at the park.
By 2014 Pierce County agreed to bow out of the agreement, leaving Lakewod to assume the lease from the state.
Under the agreement the city is on the hook for all maintenance and upkeep at the park, which has been the long-standing expectation of the state since its first agreement with the county.
To date Lakewood has invested nearly $11 million in park improvements at Fort Steilacoom Park.
The next step for management of the lake is to further research costs associated with clean up and any necessary permits so that when the city takes ownership of the property it can move forward.
The council did not commit to any form of dredging cleanup of the lake at its March 6 meeting. Instead council members said they were open to more studies to determine whether dredging is realistic given potential environmental limitations and fiscal restrictions.
Adopting the plan improves the city’s ability to pursue local, state, and federal grants to address the water quality issues and gives city staff the ability to add the proposed work to the 2018 stormwater management capital improvement plan and consider it as part of an upcoming stormwater rate analysis.
All eyes are on the Lakewood Police Department as it embarks on a new program geared toward reducing the number of impaired drivers on the city’s roads.
The department is the first in the state to offer a phlebotomy, or blood draw, program where officers are certified to draw blood from a suspected impaired driver. The blood draw will occur in a designated room at police headquarters with the same equipment and procedures that would be found in a hospital.
Three factors drove the decision to pursue an in-house program:
- A desire to increase driving under the influence convictions
- Reduce DUI test refusals
- Reduce the number of DUI cases that go to trial
“Over three years statistics show approximately 17 percent of drivers arrested for DUI refused a breath test,” Lakewood Police Chief Mike Zaro said of state statistics.
That number is higher in Lakewood, Zaro said, noting in the last three years Lakewood officers pursued blood draws on average 63 times a year.
That means arresting officers must obtain a search warrant and take the person to a hospital to have blood drawn to prove a person drove while intoxicated.
In some instances suspected drunk drivers, or those driving under the influence of drugs, aren’t tested because they refuse the breath test and hospital staff is unavailable to collect blood samples quickly after an arrest is made.
Breathalyzer tests only register a person’s blood alcohol content, not drugs. A blood test is the easiest way to determine a person’s level of drug intoxication.
“A significant amount of people are being brought to our area hospitals for the sole purpose of drawing blood,” Zaro said.
Lakewood Police hope by having certified officers on duty area emergency rooms will see a reduction in requests for blood draws, freeing medical staff up to respond to emergencies.
State traffic authorities hope Lakewood's program shows increased efficiency that will result in more arrests of impaired drivers and reduce the likelihood of traffic fatalities, said Darrin Grondel, director of the state Traffic Safety Commission.
The commission awarded the department a $50,000 grant to get the program up and running.
Grondel praised Lakewood’s innovative move at a press conference Thursday.
“The time saved gets officers out of hospital waiting rooms and back on the road to process more DUIs,” he said.
The Pierce County Traffic Safety Task Force, composed of 21 law enforcement officials across the county, also supports the move, Fircrest Police Chief John Cheesman said Thursday.
Washington State Patrol Capt. Dan Hall said his agency expects to watch the program closely.
Six Lakewood officers completed medical phlebotomy certification through Bates Technical College and were certified by the state Department of Health.
Officers haven’t done a blood draw yet, but assume they will this weekend when countywide DUI enforcement patrols are planned.
Officers conducting the blood draw will continue to follow state law which requires a search warrant to perform the blood draw.
The blood draws will be done at department headquarters and replicate a hospital setting.
“The only difference is officers will do it,” Zaro said.
This week was a big week for the Springbrook Park expansion project in the city's Springbrook neighborhood.
Rising from the mud pit that once held the old playground equipment is a new play structure designed with children of all ages and abilities in mind. The Seahawks inspired blue and green equipment spans the play area and includes a large structure for older children and a smaller structure for the younger kids.
The new playground equipment was installed over the course of the week by dedicated volunteers including members of the Springbrook community and its Springbrook Connections group and members of the S-2, 1-14 CAV 1-2 SBCT from Joint Base Lewis-McChord. City parks and recreation and facilities employees also did some heavy lifting.
This is the latest phase in the expansion and redevelopment of the city-owned park in Springbrook.
The city is investing nearly $1 million into the project, allowing the park to more than double in size, make way for new walking trails, picnic tables, a second picnic shelter and the new playground equipment and expansion of the community garden.
Completed work includes installing a bridge over Clover Creek to provide pedestrian access to the park from an isolated area of the community off 47th Avenue Southwest, restoring the Clover Creek shoreline and relocating and expanding the community garden at the park.
A ribbon cutting ceremony for the new park is planned for April 22, Parks Appreciation Day. More information on that event will follow.
Judge Susan Adams was sworn in as Lakewood’s Municipal Court Judge Feb. 6, 2017 before the Lakewood City Council.
In the coming weeks she will visit the cities of University Place, DuPont and the town of Steilacoom to be sworn in at each location as Municipal Court Judge for the respective jurisdictions.
Adams replaces Judge Grant Blinn who was elected in November to the Pierce County Superior Court.
Adams was appointed in January 2017. She previously served as director of the Crystal Judson Family Center in Tacoma for nearly 12 years.
Prior to joining the Tacoma nonprofit Adams was a deputy prosecuting attorney for the Pierce County Prosecutor’s office for 14 years. While prosecutor Adams served as division chief, supervisor of the domestic violence unit, felony trial team chief and felony trial lawyer.
Adams also served as Judge Pro-Tempore for Lakewood and the city of Puyallup.
She received her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Puget Sound school of law and her Bachelor of Arts degree from Central Washington University.
In 2015 Adams was named a Woman of Influence in South Puget Sound. She is a senior fellow with the American Leadership Forum of Tacoma/Pierce County (class XIV). She is a Rotary Club of Tacoma No. 8 member and serves on the board of directors for St. Francis House in Puyallup.
Adams is a lifelong resident of Washington. She and husband Scott have been married more than 14 years and have two children.
Lakewood’s municipal court holds limited jurisdiction and hears criminal misdemeanors, gross misdemeanors, infractions and parking and photo infraction violations in the cities of Lakewood, University Place, DuPont and the town of Steilacoom.
Municipal Court is located at Lakewood City Hall, 6000 Main St. SW.
Visit the city of Lakewood YouTube channel to see footage of Judge Adams being sworn in.
The signs warning of toxic algae blooms at Waughop Lake remain in place eight years after they were first posted. As any regular visitor to the 350-plus acre Fort Steilacoom Park knows, the 30-acre lake regularly experiences the blue-green toxic algae blooms when temperatures rise.
Using grant money from the state Department of Ecology, the City Council authorized a study of the lake including a year-long monitoring of the water to determine the source of the high phosphorus levels producing the algae blooms.
At one time city officials believed the problems were caused by a combination of stormwater runoff, animal waste and failing septic systems. That information was corrected last year when a lake management plan was unveiled.
Engineering consulting firm Brown and Caldwell and Jim Gawel, University of Washington Tacoma associate professor of environmental chemistry and engineering, studied the lake and developed the plan.
The results of their work showed the nutrient-rich lake bottom was the culprit of the toxic algae blooms.Waughop Lake is a kettle lake, which means water doesn't circulate naturally. Instead it sits in the basin.
To correct the problem man-made interventions are necessary.
Now the City Council is poised to approve a multi-phase plan aimed improving water quality in the lake and ultimately reducing phosphorus levels.
The council heard a presentation Feb. 27 at its study sessionfrom the consultants hired to completed the lake management plan study. Now it will vote on the plan at its March 6 regular meeting (7 p.m. City Hall, 6000 Main Street SW).
The presentation includes a recommendation for how to proceed with cleaning up the water.
The suggested first phase is to treat the lake with alum, a chemical regularly used to remove phosphorus from fresh water. The city of Seattle recently used this chemical in Green Lake to minimize its algae blooms.
According to the state Department of Ecology's website , when added to water "alum forms a fluffy, aluminum hydroxide precipitate called a floc. As the floc settles, it removes phosphorus and particulates (including algae) from the water column."
The floc forms a layer on the sediment at the bottom of the lake that acts as a barrier to the phosphorus, preventing it from being released into the water which halts the algae blooms.
The second phase of the recommended treatment plan before the City Council calls for the eventual dredging of the lake bottom. This option is more costly and would only be done if money is available.
Suggested funding sources include requesting money from the state Legislature, grants or the creation of special purpose districts like a local improvement district, lake management district or a flood control zone management district.
The decision on how to proceed rests with the City Council.
Click here to see the Feb. 27 study session materials on the Waughop Lake management plan .
Lakewood City Manager John Caulfield recognized longtime volunteer and youth advocate Kurt Sample Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017, for his service to youth in the city.
Sample led the program for 15 years, which operates at Lochburn Middle School and the Lakewood Family YMCA as a drop-in club for students to get hands on experience with computers, videography, robotics and other science and technology related fields.
He also ran Lakewood’s Promise, an agency made up of youth-focused organizations with a shared vision to provide opportunities for Lakewood youth to succeed through collaboration.
Thanking Sample for his contribution to the city, Caulfield said the city “needs more folks like you.”
“The level of energy you brought to Lakewood has been second to none,” Caulfield said. “On behalf of the Mayor, City Council and city of Lakewood I want to say ‘Thank you.’”
Sample will become the new director for Sound View Camp, a youth camp located on the Key Peninsula.
Watch the YouTube video of Sample's recognition during the Lakewood Community Collaboration meeting.
The City of Lakewood was recognized for excellence in governmental accounting and financial reporting by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada(GFOA). The GFOA presented the award to Tho Kraus, Assistant City Manager of Administrative Service and Chief Financial Officer at the City of Lakewood, as the individual primarily responsible for preparing the 2014 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report . This award represents the highest form of recognition in governmental accounting and financial reporting, for providing accurate and transparent information in aiding the pursuit of financial well-being.
More background on the Certificate of Achivement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the GFOA:
The City Manager's Weekly Info Bulletin is a roundup of news items, happenings and other items of note for the City of Lakewood.
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