Lake Levels

Current Reservoir Levels

Lake Tapps Reservoir reached full recreational water levels on April 14. “We were committed to reaching full recreational levels and meeting the expectations set in our agreements, especially with the Lake Tapps community. Once nature cooperated, we were able to take water from the White River through the diligence and hard work of our staff,” says Joe Mickelson, Cascade Operations Manager. “Rainfall over the last several days plus a high freezing level gave the White River the boost we needed.”

Cascade typically maintains seasonal recreational water levels between elevation 541.5 feet and 543 feet from April 15 to September 30, consistent with Cascade’s state water rights and agreements with the Lake Tapps Community Council, the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe and the Puyallup Tribe of Indians.  Cascade began its refill of the Lake Tapps Reservoir on February 16 in accordance with those agreements. The refill was proceeding on target until February 27 when the White River flows slowed dramatically. The agreements only allow Cascade to divert water from the White River to the reservoir when the water in the river is above a certain level, called “instream flows”.

Up until last week, instream flows had been impacted by lower than average rainfall along with lower than average freezing elevations, which kept the snowpack from melting.  Rainfall in March was the sixth lowest since measurements began in 1939 and about half the average monthly total.  Recent rainfall and higher freezing temperatures meant river levels increased over instream flows and allowed Cascade to divert water to the Lake Tapps Reservoir.

Residents can monitor overall reservoir water levels by clicking here.

As a reminder, if residents are planning work on their property, they should obtain 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 with the consideration that the reservoir level will be up to 543 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).