The Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board has accepted three Lake Tahoe Basin jurisdictions’ plans to restore Lake Tahoe’s historic clarity.
The Water Board accepted the Pollutant Load Reduction Plans by El Dorado County, Placer County and the City of South Lake Tahoe at a June 19 meeting in Lee Vining, Calif.
“These Pollutant Load Reduction Plans represent an important step on the road to restoring Lake Tahoe’s clarity,” water board chairman Peter Pumphrey said in a statement.
The plans, part of the Lake Tahoe Total Maximum Daily Load, include evaluating the benefits of water quality improvement projects constructed within the past five years, evaluating new water quality projects and enacting methods to enhance roadway maintenance and operation, according to a statement.
“The Lake Tahoe Municipal Storm Water Permit requires the three local government agencies to reduce the fine sediment from urban storm water flows by roughly 30 percent over the next 15 years, setting targets of a 10 percent reduction for each five-year permit term,” according to the statement. “The plans describe how each municipality will reduce fine sediment discharges by the required 10 percent by 2016.”
The goal of the TMDL is to plot out a way to return Lake Tahoe to its famed 100 feet of clarity. The average clarity of the lake in 2012 was 75.3 feet.
Local jurisdictions have previously expressed concerns about the cost of the TMDL. South Lake Tahoe estimates the cost of meeting the plan’s pollutant-reduction targets through 2016 is about $48 million. About $34 million of that amount has already been spent on completed water quality improvement projects and the planning and design of existing projects, according to the city’s plan.
El Dorado County has said they are concerned with how the plan evaluates areas without a direct connection to the lake or a river leading to the lake compared to areas that drain through a meadow or other natural filter.
The county said it intends to research catchment connectivity and may seek to adjust its plan to better reflect real world conditions. The League to Save Lake Tahoe has also suggested the next round of permitting include measurements about how connectivity affects pollutant loading to the lake.