Filling Tapps a close call

By Dennis Box-The Courier-Herald

Puget Sound Energy and Lake Tapps residents may have to revert to rain prayers if the lake is to be filled by Memorial Day.

Roger Thompson, PSE spokesman, previously said the utility was confident the lake would be filled by Memorial Day weekend.

But following the continued cold spring weather, lack of rain and low flows in the White River, Thompson said the deadline was getting uncomfortably close and the lake may not be filled to the recreation level by the holiday.

“We're hoping the weather turns,” Thompson said. “It either needs to get warmer or we need rain. This cool, dry weather is the problem.”

Coupled with the weather is a problem with the diversion dam on the White River in Buckley.

Following 27 days of rain in December and January, 17 flash boards were washed away making the diversion of water to the flume more difficult.

“The flash boards are a problem,” Thompson said. “But the weather is the main culprit.”

The dam had nine boards washed away the winter of 2005 and 2006, which were repaired in March 2006.

There is currently no schedule to repair the dam this year.

A new dam is on the drawing board with about $11 million designated for construction and design in the president's federal budget. More than $20 million will needed to complete the project.

Thompson said if the weather cooperates, it usually takes about three weeks to fill the lake.

PSE reports the current flows in the river as of last week is at about 1,200 cubic feet per second (CFS), which is about half of normal flows.

Because of the low flows the utility is taking about 500 CFS down the flume.

Thompson said if the weather warms up and the freezing levels in the mountains rise, the river flows will increase and the filling would jump up dramatically.

The lake was drained lower than usual this year while PSE built the backflow dike east of Inlet Island. The dike was constructed to stop water from surging out of the lake during an earthquake.

Dennis Box can be reached at

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