Lake Tapps refill only a drip, drip drip

Lake Tapps will not be filled by Memorial Day.

Boaters, swimmers and lake enthusiasts will be disappointed to learn Lake Tapps may not be filled and ready to be open to the public by Memorial Day according to Cascade Water Alliance.

While the refilling system is working just fine, an April 23 Cascade release stated nature is not cooperating. Reduced rainfall is affecting how quickly the lake can be refilled.

Lake Tapps is currently 32 percent full with 5.5 billion gallons of water as of April 21, but the lake needs an additional 11 billion gallons, according to Cascade’s website.

The reduced snowpack in the mountains that has plagued ski resorts this year has little effect on refilling the lake, according to Cascade Communication Director Elaine Kraft.

Kraft said Cascade is allowed to divert any water above minimum in-stream flow into Lake Tapps, but the problem is minimum in-stream flow increases every two weeks.

“Right now, the requirement under the Department of Ecology water rights is that we leave 825 cubic feet per second of water in the river,” said Kraft. “On May 1, the minimum in-stream flow goes up to 875 cubic feet per second.”

Kraft said there is only 75 extra cubic feet per second of water Cascade is able to divert from the White River into Lake Tapps as of April 24.

This will shrink to 25 cubic feet per second if water levels don’t rise in the coming weeks.

At that current rate, it would take Cascade almost two years, or 680 days, to refill Lake Tapps.

Earlier this year, Cascade was involved in the largest trust water donation in Washington state history.

Cascade made a permanent donation of 684,571 acre feet of water to Washington state’s Trust Water Rights program, which will preserve in-stream flows and protect fish in the White River.

Kraft said that donation of water does not affect the little amount of water going into Lake Tapps in any way.