Fundraiser gathers community for Lake Tapps preservation

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By Dennis Box-The Courier-Herald

It was fun, food and fundraising May 2 with a packed house of about 200 people at Al Lago Ristorante Italiano.

The Lakes Tapps Community Council threw a $150 a plate fundraiser titled the “Preserve Lake Tapps Gala” at the restaurant, located on the northwest edge of the lake.

The council was raising money for professional and legal fees concerning the conversion of Lake Tapps to a drinking water reservoir.

The food and drinks flowed starting at 6 p.m. and lasted until after 9 p.m.

There was a silent auction, a raffle drawing every 15 minutes and live music.

Frank Catalano was master of the microphone and Pierce County Councilman Shawn Bunney added a few encouraging words about preservation of the lake.

Residents rubbed elbows with friends and politicians, including Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, who represents the 31st District and Bonney Lake Mayor Neil Johnson.

Kirk Shuler, a member of the community council, said the group hoped to raise about $100,000 to pay for services.

“This was the galvanizing event,” Bunney said. “The civic leaders gathered together for an important cause.”

The Department of Ecology is in the final stages of reissuing the drinking water rights for the lake to Puget Sound Energy.

PSE had a utility water right for the past 100 years, which it requested be converted to a drinking water right in 2003.

The lake was used as a reservoir for PSE's White River Hydroelectric Plant, which was closed in 2004.

The first drinking water rights application was appealed and sent back to Ecology by the Pollution Control Hearings Board in 2004 to be rewritten after the plant closed.

Converting the lake to a drinking water reservoir is considered to be the best way to save the lake.

Once Ecology reissues the water rights, PSE will sell the rights to Cascade Water Alliance, an eastside water utility.

Residents are concerned the flows required to be left in White River during the summer will cause the lake to drop below recreational levels in July and August.

The funds will be used to hire lawyers and consultants to advocate for the community.

“We are 95 percent of the way toward a lasting solution,” Bunney said. “But we need to get it done right. We have some concerns about the process, but we are trying to work with all the partners to get this done right. We want to save the lake into perpetuity. We want to save the lake for our kids and the future.”

Dennis Box can be reached at

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