The City of Tumwater is fortunate to have an abundance of fresh water within its jurisdiction. Most of Tumwater’s surface waters fall within the Deschutes Watershed. From the Deschutes River and Percival Creek to Barnes and Trosper Lakes, Tumwater’s surface waters provide local beauty, habitat for wildlife and recreation opportunities for people.
The largest flowing water body in Thurston County, the Deschutes River, ends its journey through the county by flowing through Tumwater. The Deschutes flows through Pioneer Park at Henderson Blvd., through the Tumwater Valley Municipal Golf Course, over Tumwater Falls and glides by Tumwater Historical Park. It then empties into the Capitol Lake basins at the base of Budd Inlet.
The Deschutes River provides habitat for many fish and animal species, including the Chinook salmon run managed by Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. The numerous parks along the river provide ideal walking and picnic sites. A favorite summertime activity for Tumwater residents is rafting down the Deschutes River from Pioneer Park.
Percival Creek flows from Trosper Lake north through Tumwater. It emerges from the South Puget Sound Community College campus and flows on to Capitol Lake. In the southwestern portion of Tumwater, Fish Pond Creek flows toward Black Lake. This creek makes Tumwater a part of the Chehalis watershed, which ultimately empties into the Pacific Ocean at Grays Harbor.
The largest lacustrine water bodies in Tumwater, Trosper and Barnes Lakes, are located west of the Littlerock/2nd Avenue areas. Trosper Lake sits behind Tumwater Middle School and has an extensive wetland system surrounding it. Barnes Lake is mostly surrounded by residences. Local residents and City staff jointly manage that lake through the Barnes Lake Management District.
City staff and volunteers work hard to keep Tumwater’s surface waters healthy. The City implements ongoing projects involving stormwater facility upgrades, water quality monitoring and habitat enhancement to keep Tumwater’s surface waters healthy.