Capitol Lake was created in 1951 with the construction of a concrete dam and control gate that prevented salt-water intrusion into the newly formed lake and regulated flow of the Deschutes River into southern Puget Sound. Physical processes associated with the former tidally dominated estuary were altered, and the dam structure itself likely caused an increase in retention of sediment flowing into the lake from the Deschutes River. Several efforts to manage sediment accumulation in the lake, including dredging and the construction of sediment traps upriver, failed to stop the lake from filling with sediment. The Deschutes Estuary Feasibility Study (DEFS) was carried out to evaluate the possibility of removing the dam and restoring estuarine processes as an alternative ongoing lake management.
An important component of DEFS was the creation of a hydrodynamic and sediment transport model of the restored Deschutes Estuary. Results from model simulations indicated that estuarine processes would be restored under each of four restoration alternatives, and that over time, the restored estuary would have morphological features similar to the predam estuary. The model also predicted that after dam-removal, a large portion of the sediment eroded from the lake bottom would be deposited near the Port of Olympia and a marina located in lower Budd Inlet seaward of the present dam. The volume of sediment transported downstream was a critical piece of information that managers needed to estimate the total cost of the proposed restoration project. However, the ability of the model to predict the magnitude of sediment transport in general and, in particular, the volume of sediment deposition in the port and marina was limited by a lack of information on the erodibility of fine-grained sediments in Capitol Lake.
Cores at several sites throughout Capitol Lake were collected between October 31 and November 1, 2007. The erodibility of sediments in the cores was later determined in the lab with Sedflume, an apparatus for measuring sediment erosion-parameters. In this report, we present results of the characterization of fine-grained sediment erodibility within Capitol Lake. The erodibility data were incorporated into the previously developed hydrodynamic and sediment transport model. Model simulations using the measured erodibility parameters were conducted to provide more robust estimates of the overall magnitudes and spatial patterns of sediment transport resulting from restoration of the Deschutes Estuary.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Incorporation of Fine-Grained Sediment Erodibility Measurements into Sediment Transport Modeling, Capitol Lake, Washington