Low lake levels may lead a South Lake Tahoe marina to deepen its waterway without the arrival of more wet weather.
Tahoe Keys Marina has not applied for a permit yet, but “is in the process” of doing so in case Lake Tahoe’s water levels continue to drop, office manager Kitti Prine said.
The permit is necessary to begin dredging the east Tahoe Keys channel, the inlet where the marina operates.
The channel is navigable now, but only if a boat requires three and a half feet of water or less to float, Prine said. At 4 1/2 feet, a boat will not be able to enter or exit the waterway.
“We are doing what we can,” she said.
Dredging the channel would consist of removing materials — such as mud, plants or debris — from the bottom of the waterway. But first, permit applications must be filed with the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board.
The board then determines if the project meets a number of environmental requirements. It also calls for continuous visual inspection on portions of the project, the use of low impact techniques and more.
If the project is approved, dredging can begin at the site as long as water levels are above 6,219 feet in the inner marina and 6,215 feet elsewhere in the east channel.
Currently, water levels are hovering above Lake Tahoe’s 6,223-foot rim.
Other organizations on the North Shore have applied for dredging permits in the last year, said Lauri Kemper, assistant executive officer with the Control Board. But that’s not uncommon when lake levels dip.
“I would say it’s just sort of typical when we have low lake levels,” she said.
Tahoe Keys Marina is working with two other organizations in the area to prepare for the possibility of dredging, Prine said. However, there is no timeline on when the companies might file a permit application.
Prine said that part is up to Mother Nature.
“It’s all unknown,” she said.
At full occupancy, about 239 boats dock with the marina during peak summer times, Prine said. An additional untold number use the business’s boat launch throughout the year.
The closest marinas to Tahoe Keys are Camp Richardson Marina and Timber Cove Marina.