Cascade Water Alliance conducts open house for Lake Tapps residents

Cascade Water Alliance hosted an open house for Lake Tapps residents Feb. 10 to provide a forum for lingering questions about the organization’s purchase of the lake as a reservoir.

The open house took place at North Tapps Middle School. Cascade staff stood by informational stand-ups detailing the project to about 50 attending locals.

“Tonight is an informal way for us to ask questions and get answers,” Cascade Board Chair Lloyd Warren said during his opening statement. “A lot of things have been going on for the 100 years the lake has existed that we don’t know about. So we’ll be learning as much as you tonight.”

Cascade is a nonprofit formed in 1999 for the purpose of ensuring future water supply for its members, which include the cities of Bellevue, Issaquah, Kirkland, Redmond and Tukwila, as well as the Covington Water District, the Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District and the Skyway Water and Sewer District.

Cascade finalized the purchase of Lake Tapps from Puget Sound Energy for use as a water supply in December.

They now await the Department of Ecology’s approval of their water right in May or June, though they don’t anticipate a denial of the right based on their Environmental Impact Report, CEO Chuck Clarke said.

As part of the agreement, Puget Sound Energy will continue to operate the lake for up to the next five years.

Use of the lake as a water supply, if and when Cascade determines a need, could take decades. In the meantime, the organization will steward the recreational use and fish populations of Lake Tapps.

During the question and answer session, the main issue on attendees’ minds was the changing water level of the lake.

Lake resident Byron Buris wanted to know if Cascade would take advantage of its contractual ability to raise the lake to 545 feet, and whether the organization would remove the tree stumps rooted into the lake bottom. The first could be an issue for lakefront homeowners who built their docks below that level, and the second is a safety issue for boaters, Buris said.

Cascade doesn’t have plans to do either, but both are possibilities if they come to a mutual agreement with the Lake Tapps Community Council, Clarke said.

Resident Nancy Spencer asked if the seasonal low lake level would be shortened if Cascade managed the population of milfoil, an aquatic plant.

This was another area where staffers did not have a ready answer. During the summer, milfoil proliferates and tends to catch on the propellers of passing boats, spreading around the lake. Cascade is actively working to control the milfoil population, Clarke said.

Other features of the open house included a booth with tips on how to conserve water use in the home. Free items such as rain gauges, faucet valves and dye tablets to detect toilet leaks were distributed to visitors.

Such items will continue to be given out at the Cascade office near the Lake Tapps powerhouse on the northwest side of the lake.

Attendees responded positively to the open house, including Matthew Brown, a resident who moved onto the lake with his family around Thanksgiving.

“We learned all about (the Cascade purchase) during the home buying process and it was a factor in deciding to buy our house, knowing that they will be maintaining the water levels,” he said. “It’s been an educational process learning what goes into maintaining the lake, so I’m glad they did this.”

For more information about the Lake Tapps purchase, Cascade Water Alliance can be reached at 425-453-0930 or e-mailed through their Web site

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