Task force has hired Gallup Organization to determine what people want done about lake
By Rob Tucker
The task force trying to save Lake Tapps has a message for people living around the lake: don’t hang up when the pollster calls.
The Gallup Organization will begin a telephone poll of residents in the Lake Tapps area next week or soon after. The pollsters will ask people’s feelings about the lake; should it be saved and how that should be done.
The Lake Tapps Task Force will use the poll results to help decide what to propose to federal officials to keep the lake.
Task force members and others believe few people want to see the lake disappear.
Nobody wants the plug pulled on their lifestyle and what they worked for,” said Karen Buckley, a representative of Friends of Lake Tapps, a homeowners group that participates on the task force. “Listen and answer the questions honestly~”
The task force formed in April 1999, after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission placed requirements on a power license for Puget Sound Energy Co.’s White River Hydroelectric Project.
PSE, which owns the lake, said those requirements and new federal demands to save endangered white River fish will cost roughly $60 million over 20 years. PSE talked about not accepting the 50-year federal license. If that occurred, the federal government would force retirement of the hydroelectric project that generates 35 megawatts ofelectricity and serves up to 35,000 homes. The project includes a diversion dam on the White River at Buckley, canals and pipelines to deliver the water about seven miles to Lake Tapps, and a power generation plant in Sumner below the lake.
If the company retired the project, the 89-year-old lake would evaporate.
If that occurred, property values for the 2,000 lakefront homes would drop by about a third, according to county estimates. Property values of another 5,000 homes near thenlake also might drop.
County officials once estimated the loss in property tax revenue at more than $500,000 to the county and other taxing districts, including fire and school districts in the area.
But PSE, a stockholder-owned utility, said it was willing to work with homeowners, government officials and others in the task force to save the lake and operate the hydroelectric project profitably. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission agreed in July 1999 to delay enforcing licensing requirements for two years, pending the task force deliberations.
Since its formation, the task force has been working to save the lake and inform resindents. The group could recommend: forming a taxing district around the lake to help PSE make up losses; having the state purchase the lake; allowing PSE to sell lake water to raise money; or public ownership of the hydroelectric project by the City of Bonney Lake, or some other public entity.
The task force held community meetings last May, made a television program, placed a special information section in some editions of The News Tribune on Tuesday, and now plans to poll residents to meet federal requirements.
“It’s required that we communicate with the stake holders,” said Pierce County Councilwoman Jan Shabro, a Lake Tapps resident and co-chairwoman of the task force.
The poll cost $106,000. The Army Corps of Engineers, Pierce County, PSE and homeowners associations helped finance the poll. Results should be available to the task force in mid-October.
It’s important that people answer the telephone poll questions candidly so the task force knows where the community stands, said Bernie Hargrave of the Army Corps.
Pollsters will question lake residents and others from southeast King County and parts of East Pierce County, officials said. People who don’t live on or near Lake Tapps use it for recreation, county studies show.
The News Tribune
August 23, 2000