New program offers incentives for keeping Lake Tapps clean

Becoming Lake TappsWise certified could lead to savings on a septic inspections and pumping.

Cascade Water Alliance and the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department are teaming up to protect Lake Tapps and give homeowners around the lake incentive to do the same.

The new program, called Lake TappsWise, offers free information and workshops on how to naturally care for your yard and maintain your septic system.

“It’s an exciting opportunity for all of us to remember what we should do with wise yard care and how to keep our septic systems healthy,” said Elaine Kraft, communications director at Cascade. “Poor choice of fertilizer, not natural yard care and failing septics really are what contribute a great deal to the flourishing of milfoil and other things in the lake.”

Lake Tapps is no stranger to milfoil or toxic algae blooms, which are naturally occurring but can be exacerbated by fertilizers, pesticides and human waste. In August 2016, a total of 14 people got sick after swimming in the lake, with their symptoms seeming consistent with exposure to toxic cyanobacteria, or blue green algae.

Kraft said these Lake Tapps’ algae blooms are normal, but can be mitigated through better lawn and septic care.

“When you look at lakes in the northwest, this is not at all unusual. We just want to minimize it, don’t feed them, and keep the lake as healthy as we can,” she said, adding Lake Tapps will eventually be used for water supply, “and we don’t want the algae in there either, any more than the people who live there want it.”

The new program will ask lakeside residents to complete a checklist of tasks to become Lake TappsWise certified and receive an “attractive” sign for your property.

And if that’s not enough incentive, being Lake TappsWise certified could “significantly lower the cost of a septic system inspection and pumping.”

But don’t wait too long — Kraft said the incentive to lower the price of a septic system inspection will only be given to the “first significant number of people who respond quickly.”

The program will kick off on April 26 with a community meeting at North Tapps Middle School at 6 p.m.

East Pierce Fire and Rescue will also be attending, advertising their swim safe program and their sign locator program.

There will also be free workshops at the Tapps Island Clubhouse, but you have to register at

The first is Saturday, May 5 at 10 a.m. to noon, and will focus on natural yard care.

The second is Wednesday, May 16, from 6 to 8 p.m., and will focus on septic systems.

To start becoming Lake TappsWise certified, go to or call 253.798.2856 for information on the program and to schedule a free TappsWise certification visit.

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