Residents who live on or near Lake Tapps will see a lower-than-normal winter water level in February, but the owners of the East Pierce County reservoir say it will refill in plenty of time for the busy recreation season.
A Cascade Water Alliance spokeswoman said the lake will hit its low point of 534 feet over the next few days — about 4 feet less deep than usual this time of year, and 7½ feet less deep than the recreation-season peak — while two transportation projects are done at the request of residents.
Crews will repair a bridge on Island 21 and shore up concrete barriers on a causeway near a part of the lake that lies in the City of Bonney Lake, said Elaine Kraft, Cascade’s communications director.
She said the alliance will start refilling Lake Tapps by mid- to late February and expects it will still reach its recreation depth by April 15.
“By summer, we’ll have a full and beautiful lake,” she said.
People will notice the lower level, Kraft said, but the lake won’t be nearly as shallow as it was at times in the decades when Puget Sound Energy maintained the reservoir for hydroelectric power.
Some residents might take the opportunity to work on private bulkheads and docks; Kraft said they should make sure they have all necessary permits and a license from Cascade. (For more information, go to bit.ly/12avFBj)
Lake Tapps Community Council President Chuck Romeo said Wednesday that residents were given plenty of notice and that the low lake level is not an inconvenience at this time of year.
“I can see stumps in front of my house, but the weather has been nasty, so you’re not going to do anything out (on the water) anyway,” said Romeo, who built his house on the north side of the lake at Driftwood Point in 1965.
He said some neighbors told him they’d like the lake drawn down an additional 8 feet so they could run their all-terrain vehicles on the mud flats, like in the old days.
Puget Sound Energy shut down the White River Hydroelectric Project in 2004 after 92 years of operation. Cascade bought Lake Tapps in 2009 for a lower-impact purpose: as a potential drinking-water source for regional communities decades down the line.
Kraft said some parts of the reservoir’s infrastructure have fallen into disrepair since Puget disconnected its generators, but she doesn’t expect many more projects like this winter’s transportation work.
“Very seldom, if ever, will we take the lake down very far, and if we do, we will let people know well in advance,” she said.
Matt Misterek: 253-597-8472