Lake Tahoe stormwater monitoring site goes live | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Lake Tahoe stormwater monitoring site goes live

Justin Scacco
jscacco@sierrasun.com

Third Creek flows into Lake Tahoe from the shore of Incline Village. In an ongoing effort to protect the lake, scientists are developing an alternative way to trap stormwater runoff by using the natural depressions in the landscape.

The Tahoe Resource Conservation District announced the launch of a new interactive monitoring dashboard on the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency's (TRPA) Lake Tahoe Info website, allowing users to browse stormwater monitoring sites from around the lake.

The program summarizes stormwater runoff data from several locations around the Tahoe Basin, giving local stormwater program managers and regulators, and the public easy access to information on pollutants flowing into the lake, such as the amount of fine sediment particles, and nitrogen and phosphorous which contribute to the growth of algae and lessen the lake's clarity.

"Monitoring is not easy," said Andrea Buxton, Stormwater Program Manager at the Tahoe Resource Conservation District. "You have to have very specific conditions. It's hard to find sites. Most are at outfall pipes that go directly into the lake."

Buxton said the district has been monitoring stormwater runoff over the last four water years (Oct.-Sept.), with the goal of measuring improvement in water quality over time to determine the effectiveness of environmental improvement projects in urban areas around the lake.

With the TRPA's addition of a Stormwater Tools application on its website, Buxton said she contacted the agency about being included in the site's development.

In collaboration with local jurisdictions, scientists and stormwater regulators, the Tahoe Resource Conservation District developed the Lake Tahoe Regional Stormwater Monitoring Program (RSWMP), and went live with the dashboard on June 30.

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"The (laketahoeinfo.org) platform provided the ideal opportunity for us to showcase the results of the stormwater runoff monitoring we have been doing over the last four years," said Buxton. "We want RSWMP data to be easily accessible to the local jurisdictions, the regulators, and the general public so that the positive effects of all the time and money spent on environmental improvement can be recognized."

Stormwater runoff data is collected at 11 monitoring stations around the lake, according to a statement from the conservation district, in order to help local jurisdictions meet the Lake Tahoe Total Maximum Daily Load.

The Lake Tahoe Total Maximum Daily Load is a plan put forth by the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board and the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection to restore Tahoe's clarity. Between 1968 and 2000 roughly one-third of Tahoe's clarity was lost, according to laketahoeinfo.org.

There are seven jurisdictions that are responsible for the implementation of the plan — Placer County, El Dorado County, Washoe County, Douglas County, South Lake Tahoe City, the Nevada Department of Transportation, and the California Department of Transportation — and the new monitoring dashboard will give regulators and program managers quick access to information in their jurisdictions.

"Before that, none of our data was easily accessible," said Buxton.

More data needs to be collected before a determination on the effectiveness of local environmental improvement projects to improve the quality of stormwater runoff, according to Buxton, with a sample size of between five and 10 years worth of data needed before conclusions can be formed.

To check out the monitoring program visit monitoring.laketahoeinfo.org/RSWMP.

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