Tribes, alliance approve historic deal to manage, protect White River and Lake Tapps areas

For the Reporter

The Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, Puyallup Tribe of Indians and Cascade Water Alliance approved an agreement that provides for the protection of fish, habitat, water supply and recreation in the White River and Lake Tapps.

The historic White River Management Agreement was more than four years in the making.

“For almost a century the flow of the White River through the Muckleshoot Reservation was often reduced to a trickle by diversions into Lake Tapps,” said Charlotte Williams, Muckleshoot Tribal Council chairperson. “This agreement provides for near natural flow conditions thereby ensuring that fish habitat in the White River will be protected. We will be able to continue fish preservation, maintenance and enhancement projects that benefit everyone. This is truly a milestone in the restoration of the River.”

Added Russ Ladley, resource protection manager of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians: “Restoration of the White River fisheries requires a balanced, cooperative approach. This agreement guarantees that water quantity and quality will remain high and that habitat and fisheries in this watershed will be protected and enhanced.”

The White River Management Agreement, to be executed by all three parties, includes a flow regime that provides for minimum flows in the White River and for diversions of water from the White River to Lake Tapps reservoir, provisions for operation and maintenance of the Lake Tapps system, continued maintenance of recreational lake levels, and restoration, protection and enhancement of fishery resources and habitat in the White River Basin

“This agreement reinforces Cascade’s commitment to careful resource management as we move forward in securing a much needed new regional water supply source,” said Cascade Chair Lloyd Warren. “We will be able to provide water flows to improve habitat for fisheries in the White River while ensuring recreational lake levels for the public.”

Additional agreements between Cascade and each Tribe provide Cascade security in its anticipated new municipal water rights and provide funding for fishing and natural resource programs, including operation of the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe hatchery, habitat restoration and enhancement projects.

The agreements were approved by the Muckleshoot Tribal Council on June 13, the Puyallup Tribal Council on June 12, and by Cascade’s Board of Directors June 25. Cascade will submit portions of the agreement related to White River flows and diversions into Lake Tapps to the Washington State Department of Ecology and will request that these elements be incorporated into the Report of Examination (ROE) for the municipal water rights and included as conditions of the Lake Tapps Reservoir water rights permits.

The environmental impact statement (EIS) process is underway, and it is anticipated that the final EIS will be completed and issued this fall, and an ROE issued in the winter.

Cascade Water Alliance is a consortium of eight municipalities and water districts that joined together in 1999 to provide water supply for current and future needs. The agency serves more than 350,000 residents and 22,000 businesses. Members contribute to the costs of purchasing water, developing water supplies and operating the systems. Although Cascade purchased Lake Tapps from Puget Sound Energy earlier this year, it will not begin using Lake Tapps as a water supply until the mid 2020s.

For more information on the agreement and the partners, visit; and