Rejuvenating Budd Inlet’s Ecosystem

Unveiling the Hidden Contamination Crisis in Budd Inlet

Budd Inlet
2023 In Review: Progress and Partnerships in Budd Inlet Cleanup and Restoration

As 2023 draws to a close, we reflect on a year of progress and collaboration for the Budd Inlet Cleanup and Restoration project. We are in the planning and design phase of a complex Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA) cleanup project that will likely take the remainder of this decade to complete. Together, we’ve made meaningful strides toward a future where Budd Inlet is cleaned up and can thrive as an environmental, economic, cultural and community resource.

$12 Million Secured for Budd Inlet Remediation

As the 2023 legislative session concluded, the Port of Olympia celebrated the award of $12 million in funding, a substantial contribution toward the cleanup of Budd Inlet. The capital budget included a $2.2 million allocation from the Department of Commerce for cleanup design and permitting and $10 million in Remedial Action Grants from the Washington Department of Ecology. Preliminary, conceptual engineering estimates calculate the total cost of cleanup at more than $100 million.

The Port is grateful for the dedication of Governor Jay Inslee, state legislators, our Tribal partners, and community members who share a vision for a cleaned-up Budd Inlet. This commitment demonstrates the collective commitment to this project. The Port continues to actively secure additional funding for the cleanup and restoration work through available grants, state and federal appropriations, and partnerships.

Community Engagement and Cooperation

The Port’s approach to Budd Inlet sediment remediation is focused on ensuring a healthy future for the lives that depend on the waterway, restoring the environment, and providing better water access for our entire community. Understanding our community’s needs and hopes is key to the project’s success, and we appreciate everyone who has engaged with us this year. From presentations to community groups to tours for fifth graders, we are grateful for the questions and insights we received, and we look forward to more engagement throughout the project.

We also had important conversations with local government organizations such as the cities of Olympia, Tumwater, and Lacey; LOTT, and Thurston County. Close collaboration with partners at the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology), the Squaxin Island Tribe, the Nisqually Indian Tribe, the Army Corps of Engineers, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and many others who recognize the importance of the restoration of Budd Inlet was a key accomplishment in 2023. Together, we are working to optimize the public benefits of sediment cleanup and restoration and ensure a thriving Budd Inlet for future generations.

Port of Olympia and Ecology Amend Agreed Order

In a significant step forward for the Budd Inlet cleanup, the Port of Olympia and Ecology have updated the Agreed Order that governs the remediation process. This revised order, building on initial findings from 2007 and the first agreement in 2008, sets a clear path for the Port to begin cleaning up Budd inlet.

The updated Agreed Order empowers the Port to carry out additional environmental studies to ensure that the cleanup plan is both scientifically robust and tailored to the specific conditions of the project. Under these terms, the Port and Ecology reaffirmed their dedication to the health of the inlet.

As required by the Agreed Order, the Port has prepared and submitted the following technical documents to the Department of Ecology:

  • Revised Identification and Evaluation of Interim Action Alternatives Memorandum, submitted May 19, 2023
  • Draft Pre-Remedial Design Data Gaps Memorandum, submitted August 9, 2023
  • Draft East Bay Project Area Pre-Remedial Design Sediment Chemistry Investigation Work Plan, submitted October 6, 2023
  • Draft Final Pre-Remedial Design Data Gaps Memorandum, Budd Inlet Sub-Area 1 (East Bay, Log Pond, Upland Confined Disposal Facility, and West Bay Park), submitted November 3, 2023
  • Revised East Bay Project Area Pre-Remedial Design Sediment Chemistry Investigation Work Plan, submitted December 1, 2023

Permitting for Sediment Sampling

The Port is preparing to perform sediment sampling within the East Bay (Budd Inlet Sub-Area 1) project area starting in January 2024. To conduct the sampling, the Port has applied to the US Army Corps of Engineers for necessary federal permits and approvals, and to appropriate state and local agencies for their approval as needed.

Port Hires Budd Inlet Project Manager: Welcome Jonathon!

Jonathon Wolf joined the Port in October as the new Project Manager for Budd Inlet. Jonathon, the former Deputy Director at the Skokomish Indian Tribe’s Natural Resources Department, brings extensive experience in intertidal and shellfish restoration. Jonathon oversees the Budd Inlet Cleanup and Restoration Project.

Earlier this year, the Port welcomed Shawn Gilbertson as the new Environmental Planning and Programs Director, and Camille St. Onge as the new Strategic Initiatives and Commission Affairs Director. Both bring additional capacity, new ideas, and strong expertise to the project.

Port Commission Extends Project Team Through 2024

In June, The Port of Olympia Commission approved a series of contract amendments for the Budd Inlet Cleanup and Restoration Project, extending the team through 2024. This group, comprised of expert engineers, geologists, biologists, hydrologists, chemists, and ecologists, is focused on advancing the interim action plan and preparing foundational reports and permits for remediation. Their expertise is crucial as we move closer to our goal of a restored Budd Inlet, working in concert with our community and a science-first approach.

Legacy: Budd Inlet Cleanup and Restoration Video

This summer, we partnered with Sky Bear Media to produce a video detailing the imperative cleanup of sediment contamination in Budd Inlet and the collaborative vision for its future.

Stay connected as we progress into 2024. For the latest project news, to ask questions, or to request a community presentation, reach out to us at either or, and don’t forget to sign up for our updates. Thank you for your continued support and Happy New Year!

More information about the project can be found at:

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