Lake Tapps, Washington, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - West - Washington - Seattle & Puget Sound -

Also known as:  Tapps Reservoir

Located in the populous Seattle and Puget Sound Region of Washington, Lake Tapps delivers water supply, recreation and sound fish ecology to residents in the surrounding area. Although a man-made reservoir, there was an original Lake Tapps, much smaller and one of four small lakes in the area. In 1911, a diversion dam was built along the White River near Buckley to divert water to a newly built impoundment nearby. That reservoir drowned the original Lake Tapps and its neighbor-lakes, eventually encompassing a 2800-acre basin surrounded by man-made dikes to hold the water in. The purpose was hydroelectric generation. Called the White River Project, Puget Sound Energy generated electrical power for the surrounding region at the powerhouse located at an outlet in nearby Sumner for nearly 100 years.

The lakeshore of new Lake Tapps was highly irregular, with many arms, islands and coves – and highly attractive to developers who purchased large tracts of land and built new developments at several locations along the shore and the islands. Less than ten miles from Pullayup and only five from Sumner, it wasn’t long before Lake Tapps became a sought-after location for summer cottages and year-round homes. Nearly a dozen ‘neighborhoods’ grew along Lake Tapps’ 42-mile shoreline. Most of them still maintain association charters and operate needed services via maintenance committees. These lake associations work together to maintain water quality, provide seasonal and holiday events and entertainment for neighborhood children. Some provide clubhouse space, playgrounds, swim beaches and boat launches. One offers a nine-hole golf course.

Most of the west shoreline is dotted with homes, while portions of the eastern shore are still partially open fields. The large expanses of water are enjoyed for water skiing, jet skis, pontooning, power boating and paddle sports. The Lake Tapps address is increasingly desirable for executives and local commuters to Federal Way, Auburn, Tacoma, Seattle and all of the cities along Puget Sound. Part of the southwest shore of Lake Tapps was annexed by the town of Bonney Lake. The lake is not entirely private, however; Pierce County maintains a county park at the far reaches of one of the northwestern arms. The 80-acre Lake Tapps North County Park provides waterfront access with swimming area and two boat launches. The City of Bonney Lake offers a public lakefront park with ball fields, boat launch, fishing dock, playgrounds, skateboard park, swimming areas, tennis courts, concessions, restrooms and water fountains. Both parks are day-use only at present and heavily used for boat launching.

Water fowl and other birds enjoy this wide expanse of nature in a mainly suburban landscape. Eagles often nest in the trees along the shore and the man-made nesting platforms provided by the county. Both parks offer walking and hiking trails where visitors can explore all that nature has to offer here against the backdrop of the lake and the surrounding mountains.

Lake Tapps has a well-deserved reputation among Washington fishermen for tiger musky and smallmouth bass. The many islands, coves and shoals provide excellent fish habitat for a number of species, including perch, kokanee, rock bass, mountain whitefish, black crappie, rainbow trout, carp and the aforementioned musky and bass. Lake Tapps has very little weed cover, so efforts are underway to improve fish habitat. The water diverted from the White River originates from the Emmons Glacier on Mount Rainier, giving some areas of the lake a typically milky color due to ‘glacial flour’ or fine rock dust. In the past, the lake has had a very short water residence time, with water constantly being removed for power generation and replaced by water from the White River. There have also been major water level variations due to the same use of water for hydroelectric generation. Both of these have had the effect of limiting the ability of aquatic plants to gain a foothold. All of that is changing, however.

In 2004, Puget Sound Energy closed down the hydroelectric plant as other power sources became available. The power company applied for State permission to sell the water outright as drinking water. This created a serious problem for the homeowners around Lake Tapps: if there were no power generation, there would be no need to divert the water from White River, and the lake would soon go dry. Local Native American tribes in the area wanted the water flow restored to the White River to improve spawning conditions for salmon. Lake Tapps residents entered into a nearly 10-year fight beginning in 1999 – as soon as they heard about the eventual discontinuation of power generation – to save their lake.

Eventually, an agreement that meets the needs of all parties was signed. A new party, the Cascade Water Alliance, purchased the rights to the lake from Puget Sound Energy and made agreements with the homeowner associations and the Muckleshoot and Pullayup tribes to maintain a more equitable water level, increase water flows into the White River, and sell water to eight surrounding communities for drinking purposes. In the process, Lake Tapps homeowners obtained an agreed-upon lake level to be maintained on a set schedule which would reduce the wild fluctuations of the past. The water level will be reduced only in the winter months – a drop of about six feet – and every effort will be made to have the lake refilled to its maximum level by mid-April. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has agreed to continue to maintain the diversion dam and associated flume, canal and pipeline that direct water to Lake Tapps.

Lake Tapps has no commercial lodgings in the way of motels or resorts on the lakefront at present, but does offer a number of private residences for weekly rentals. Nearby towns such as Bonney Lake, Sumner and Pullayup contain hotels and motels, while bed-and-breakfast establishments can be found throughout this scenic area. Lake Tapps is an ideal spot for the vacationer who wants to be close to city amenities while still enjoying a waterfront retreat. Real estate is available, much of it as existing housing with a wide variety of price tags. One visit will convince new arrivals that Lake Tapps is the kind of place they want to put down roots . . .roots with their toes in the water and their tops reaching into the mountain heights. Come to Lake Tapps and see for yourself.

Things to do at Lake Tapps

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Golf
  • Tennis
  • Hiking
  • Birding
  • Playground

Fish species found at Lake Tapps

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Black Crappie
  • Carp
  • Crappie
  • Kokanee Salmon
  • Perch
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Salmon
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Tiger Muskellunge
  • Trout
  • Whitefish

Lake Tapps Photo Gallery

Lake Tapps Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Cascade Watter Akkiance

Surface Area: 2,780 acres

Shoreline Length: 42 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 542 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 515 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 543 feet

Average Depth: 25 feet

Maximum Depth: 90 feet

Trophic State: Oligotrophic

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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