Cascade Water Alliance: Celebrating success and investing in region’s future | Other Voices

John Marchione - Courtesy Photo
John Marchione
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

Cascade Water Alliance ensures that each of you — more than 350,000 residents and 20,000 businesses — have clean, safe and reliable water every day. Our membership, consisting of the cities of Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland, Issaquah, Tukwila, and the Sammamish Plateau and Skyway Water and Sewer districts, works to produce water of the highest quality.

While we want to share our accomplishments over the first 15 years, we also want to let you know how we are creating innovative regional partnerships.

As a mayor of a growing city, I know that regional collaboration is not always easy to accomplish. Cascade is proud of its 15 years of regional cooperation that has resulted in water for today and tomorrow. But it’s more. It’s a consortium that looks at threats and risks facing the region now and in the future. As a cooperative effort, we rely on all the water providers in the region to address these challenges together.

As we look back at Cascade’s 15 year history, we know we couldn’t have gotten here alone.

Cascade was created by our members in 1999 to obtain a sufficient water supply for our growing communities on the Eastside and in South King County. At the same time, Puget Sound Energy (PSE) was winding down hydroelectric production at its facility at Lake Tapps in Pierce County. Cascade’s journey to purchase Lake Tapps began.

Lake Tapps receives water from the glacier fed White River. The lake provides Cascade a large storage area for water to be used in the summer. Lake Tapps is also important to the surrounding community who live and play on the lake. At the same time, the White River is an important salmon producing route with the potential to produce hundreds of thousands of salmon each year.

Our commitment was to be a good neighbor and we offered our hand in partnership. We worked with the Puyallup Tribe of Indians and the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe to ensure in stream flows for fish. We worked with the cities that surround the lake — Auburn, Bonney Lake, Buckley and Sumner — to ensure they had sufficient water for their future needs. We worked with the homeowners to ensure their beautiful lake would be full for their recreation.

In December 2009, after years of discussion, Puget Sound Energy sold Lake Tapps to Cascade Water Alliance for its future water supply. Water is a vital part of keeping our communities viable. Clean water benefits us, businesses, the environment, the economy and recreation. Cascade and its members now had a lake for future water supply and storage.

During our first 10 years, we saw that throughout the region overall water demand was down. So instead of immediately developing Lake Tapps for water supply, we now have water supply agreements with Seattle and Tacoma.

The result? Your 15-year-old Cascade Water Alliance has strong regional agreements and will continue to protect the provision of water supply now and in the future. Residents should rest assured that when they turn on their tap, there will be delicious water today, and as a result of our investments and planning, water for tomorrow as well. Happy Birthday, Cascade.


John Marchione is chair of the Cascade Water Alliance and mayor of Redmond.

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