Olympia Urban Waters League (OUWL) is dedicated to restoring the creeks and streams that are presently polluted pipe-bound drains. Daylight is necessary to cleanse surface water. Our goal; clean water for Olympia – The Venice of the Northwest.

A heron at East Bay near the Moxlie Creek pipe

Olympia historically was a major Puget Sound mudflat and as such, was a contributor to “blue carbon” a sink for carbon, a place that absorbed floods and tidal shifts and an excellent breeding ground for food to feed salmon and orca and birds and a host of other fish. Today most of that system has been heavily impacted by development and is gone. The mudflat was fed by streams and creeks that today can no longer  fulfill their rightful function for Puget Sound. A free flowing stream placed in a pipe, does not function like a proper stream.

Olympia Urban Waters League is a fledgling organization founded on the belief that Olympia has creeks and streams that have been badly mismanaged. The problems were created due to development pressures and due to lack of understanding of ecological systems. Today we understand these systems, and yet our governments are not committed to righting the wrongs and what suffers is our wildlife. What suffers is all the systems: plants, animals, water and us, the humans that interact with it all.

Olympia Urban Waters League (OUWL) and others are prepared to step up and say it is time, it is way past time, to recognize and repair the water systems, the fresh water that drains into Budd Inlet. We call ourselves the Urban Waters League because we are talking about the streams that drain in the densely populated parts of our town. Here we have streams that are culverted, or piped directly into Budd Inlet. The damage to the streams is multiplied by the insult of stormwater directed into those pipes.

Olympia’s built stormwater system consists of 160 miles of underground pipe, 7,400 catch basins, 1,400 manholes, 167 flow control structures.

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Moxlie Creek pipe outfall at East Bay

All of Olympia’s urban creeks have watersheds where there are unnecessary culverts and constrictions. Placing fresh water in a culvert and introducing untreated road runoff pollutes those waters. Our most pressing concern is Moxlie Creek, which runs under Olympia for a mile.

Olympia Urban Waters League is gearing up for a legal confrontation with the City over more plans for ignoring the waters. We are not yet a federally recognized charitable organization, that will come later. Meanwhile, we hope to share information with the public and to urge all to understand the urgency of our mission, and if you wish to know more, join us: Olympia Urban Waters League. Stay tuned. More to come.

Drains to Streams Newsletter