Lake Levels

Current Reservoir Levels

Lake Tapps Spring Refill Update (4/9/20)

Cascade Water Alliance began its spring refill of the Lake Tapps Reservoir on March 1. This start date was two weeks later than usual to allow Pierce County to finish replacing the concrete bulkhead and improving park amenities at North Tapps Park.  Cascade worked to maximize diversion to the reservoir (including 24/7 operations) and projections at that time indicated that the recreational lake level could be met by April 15.

Since then, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every aspect of life in Washington.  Governor Inslee’s stay home order resulted in the region’s concrete providers temporarily suspending work.  This meant that Pierce County’s contractor was unable to finish the concrete bulkhead in time to allow the refill to continue in early April.  At Pierce County’s request, Cascade paused refill of the reservoir for about a week to allow the contractor to complete the concrete work.

Active refill of the reservoir began again on Thursday, April 9.  Cascade is again working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to ensure that the maximum allowable water is diverted to the reservoir.  The rate of diversion and refill varies depending on flow in the White River.  Cascade’s water rights contain minimum flows that must be maintained in the river prior to any diversion to the reservoir.  Minimum stream flow requirements are highest mid-March through late July to support upstream migration of endangered salmon species.  Flow in the White River has been about average or slightly below average since refill began on March 1.

The current 10-day forecast shows little rainfall, indicating continued below average stream flow.  Given the current forecast, Cascade expects the reservoir to reach the recreational lake level of 541.5 feet sometime during the week of May 11.

As a reminder, residents who wish to do any work on their property, bulkheads, docks, etc. must obtain all the appropriate, required permits and a Cascade license prior to beginning any work.  Further, residents should keep in mind as they do work on their property, especially bulkheads, that Cascade has the authority to raise reservoir levels to elevation 543 feet under current water rights, so any new or modified bulkheads should be built to at least elevation 544 feet. Cascade raises the reservoir to 543 feet once a year for a day or so as a reminder.

For information regarding licenses for project work click here.

USGS Links:

Lake Tapps Level Gage

White River Gage

General Reservoir Level Management

Cascade has owned and operated the Lake Tapps Reservoir since 2009. During that time, Cascade has managed lake levels in accordance with the provisions of the Lake Tapps Reservoir Water Rights, which incorporate relevant provisions from the 2009 Agreement regarding Lake Tapps between Cascade Water Alliance and the Lake Tapps Community and the 2008 White River Management Agreement between the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe and Cascade Water Alliance.

The Water Rights and the agreements provide for Cascade to maintain recreational reservoir levels or normal full pool, between elevation 541.5′ and 543.0′ (gage height) from April 15 through Sept. 30.

Typical fall drawdown to a lake level of approximately elevation 538′ – 539′ is sufficient to protect the integrity of the Lake Tapps dikes and for any routine inspections. This minimizes the wear on the valves in the power house during fall drawdown and the risk of problems refilling the Lake Tapps Reservoir during periods of water shortage.

Specific dike or other maintenance projects will require Cascade to reduce the lake level in the fall and winter to approximately elevation 533′ to 535′ (some projects may require the level to be lower).