Lake Tapps community celebrates third Swimsafe summer
For the third year in a row the Lake Tapps community is celebrating a Swimsafe summer with no reported drowning in Lake Tapps.
Following a 2012 summer that saw three deaths in Lake Tapps, the surrounding cities, first responders, school districts and Cascade Water Alliance, owner of the reservoir, came together to take steps to help swimmers and boaters who enjoy recreation on Lake Tapps and other area waterways stay safe in a campaign called Swimsafe. Their efforts have paid off – there were no deaths reported during the 2013, 2014 and now 2015 summer seasons!
And another success: the Swimsafe coalition continues to grow. This year the Washington State Parks Department, YMCA-Sumner, and Sound Ocean Systems joined the City of Bonney Lake, Pierce County, East Pierce Fire and Rescue, Bonney Lake Police Department, Sumner School District, Dieringer School District, Aquatic Center and the Cascade Water Alliance on drowning prevention. The coalition continues to build on the collaborative success of the past three years, working with the community in numerous ways:
· Worked with Sound Ocean Systems to develop a water temperature buoy prototype that will communicate the real-time water temperature (2-3 feet below the surface) to shore-based displays at both of public parks on Lake Tapps. The displays are intended to create awareness of the effects of cold water BEFORE swimmers enter the water.
· Continued the Lake Tapps Incident Locator Sign project with nearly 150 signs purchased to date by waterfront homeowners. The program ensures emergency responders can get to those in trouble on the lake quickly.
· Placed three new buoys around Church Lake and re-decaled several older buoys to improve visibility.
· Delivered the Swimsafe message through water safety assemblies in 19 elementary and middle schools in both the Sumner and Dieringer Schools Districts, and this year added schools in White River and Carbonado School Districts, reaching over 7000 students! Assemblies have already been scheduled for 2016.
· Facilitated the custom fitting and sales of 100 life jackets during the school assemblies.
· Delivered classroom-based water safety lessons to nearly 1,700 students, specifically addressing risks associated with glacial-fed waters and boat-related carbon monoxide poisoning, in all middle and high schools within in East Pierce Fire and Rescue’s jurisdiction.
· Continued to maintain life jacket loaner kiosks at North Tapps Park and Allan Yorke Park.
· Distributed thousands of Swimsafe rubber bracelets to youth and adults as a reminder to stay safe in open waters.
· Teamed up with members of Bonney Lake High School’s Media Club to develop a short water safety message.
· Partnered with the media to help spread drowning prevention messages through articles in local papers and segments on the radio, King 5, NW Cable News, Pierce County Television and Comcast On Demand networks.
· Brought the Swimsafe message to the community at events such as Operation Drywater, Bonney Lake Days, and various elementary school carnivals.
“Swimsafe – and the community collaboration it represents - came about as a result of tragedy, but the program has become a success story we’re all immensely proud of. Swimsafe is making a real difference in our community,” says City of Bonney Lake Mayor Neil Johnson.
“Seeing no water related deaths for three straight summers means something is working,” says Bud Backer, Chief, East Pierce Fire and Rescue. “But this must be an ongoing campaign for all of us.”
Learn more about Swimsafe programs and promotions by visiting these websites:
City of Bonney Lake: http://www.ci.bonney-lake.wa.us/section_community/parks_recreation/special_events.shtml
Pierce County: http://www.co.pierce.wa.us/index.aspx?NID=114
East Pierce Fire and Rescue: www.eastpiercefire.org
Cascade Water Alliance: www.cascadewater.org
Dieringer School District: www.dieringer.wednet.edu
Sumner School District: www.sumnersd.org
Fall Drawdown Schedule for Lake Tapps Reservoir
Cascade Water Alliance in consultation with the Lake Tapps Community Council today announced its expected fall drawdown schedule for fall 2015 and fill in early spring 2016.
The fall drawdown of Lake Tapps will begin the last half of November. Until then, Cascade will maintain the reservoir at current levels (approximately elevation 541-542 feet).
Cascade will be lowering the reservoir in the last half of November approximately two to three feet (to approximately elevation 539.5 feet) to protect the dikes from winter winds, storms and wave action. The lake will remain at this level throughout the fall and winter. The lake will begin to be refilled in early March 2016, with a full recreational pool level to be reached by mid-April.
Anyone choosing to do work during this period must obtain a license from Cascade and all required permits from Pierce County, the City of Bonney Lake, and the state if required. To obtain a Cascade permit, visit
All paperwork must be completed prior to beginning of construction.
In 2009, the Lake Tapps Community Council and Cascade Water Alliance established long term agreements ensuring consistent, seasonal lake levels every year. This announcement is being made in accordance with these agreements.
Further, as per the agreements, Cascade will raise the lake to the maximum 543 foot level at least once per year to ensure homeowners recognize where this level is for future planning.
For more information on the lake levels visit http://cascadewater.org/lake_tapps_recreational_lake_levels.php and www.laketappsnews.org
For additional information on Cascade’s Lake Tapps agreements visit www.cascadewater.org/lake_tapps_agreements
Pierce Councilman Dan Roach sums up September 30th meeting with Lake Tapps residents
"I began by giving an update on the Shorelines Management Plan and the North Tapps Park. The state requires that local governments update their Shorelines Management Plans every seven years. The State Department of Ecology (DOE) demanded a change to the current 50 foot setback standard on Lake Tapps to a stricter 75 foot buffer requirement. After several community meetings involving state elected officials, members of the Lake Tapps Community Council, DOE, and County staff, I’m happy to report we were able to maintain the current 50 foot setback and the proposal has been submitted to DOE for final approval.
North Tapps Park has struggled to accommodate parking during the busy summer months, causing safety concerns along the road. The Pierce County Council recently approved a proposal by the Conservation Futures Advisory Board to purchase the 55 acres owned by Puget Sound Energy that is next to the park. Plans are in the works to find the best way to use this property to help with the parking overflow as well as a playground to add to the existing park.
Next, Leon Stucki, from the Lake Tapps Community Council, recognized Michael Gagliardo of Cascade Water Alliance for his help in pulling off the miracle of getting the lake filled this summer. Mr. Gagliardo gave a brief report on the millions of dollars worth of work that was done. I attached a copy of the news release that outlines the work in more detail.
Pierce County Parks director Tony Tipton and I briefly touched on the history of the Lake Tapps Boating Management Plan that was adopted in 2005 (copy attached). Part of the management plan was to look into the possibility of designating a place, Dike 4 for example, for boaters to raft that wouldn’t adversely affect homeowners. There are many factors that would go into this designation such as an agreement with CWA for the use of the dike, is it that the best area since it is very windy at times, who would have jurisdiction (CWA, Pierce County, law enforcement), the cost/liability of the installation of the buoys, etc. The discussion is still ongoing.
The main reason I decided to schedule this meeting was due to my office receiving a petition from homeowners in Lakeridge Cove requesting something be done about boats "rafting" in the cove. Even though “rafting” is already prohibited, rafters simply untie their boats when the sheriff comes. Homeowners and boaters are still experiencing this activity and other inappropriate behaviors such as drunkenness, nudity, loud music, threats, etc. I felt that a more comprehensive review of the code was needed so as not to “piece meal” the issue and wanted to get the input of those being affected.
Any legislation dealing with boating issues in Pierce County first goes through the Boating Advisory Commission, made up of citizen volunteers appointed by the Executive. I have drafted a Resolution (attached) requesting that the Boating Advisory Commission (BAC) review the current rafting code and make recommendations. Note: several other issues/suggestions were brought up during the meeting (see list below), that will be a part of the general discussion. My hope is that the commission will be scheduling a meeting in the near future now that it has at least five of the nine members needed, which is enough for a quorum. I understand that the Executive has sent an additional appointment to the Council for approval. I received three applications at the meeting and am in the process of submitting them to the Executive for review.
Once the Boating Advisory Commission forwards their suggestions to the Council, and a proposal is drafted, it will be heard by the Public Safety and Human Services Committee. If you would like to be listed on the “interested party list” for notification on hearing dates and times, just let me know.
Please feel free to share this information with others who might be interested. Please contact me with questions, thoughts or concerns.
Issues/suggestions brought up during the meeting:
· Not a safe environment, vulgar language, threatening to residents
· Need to have rafting code apply to all coves
· Speeding in the coves, large wakes – rafting slows that down
· Laws need to be enforced"