A clarity restoration plan nears adoption | TahoeDailyTribune.com

A clarity restoration plan nears adoption

Adam Jensen

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – A water quality restoration plan that will change how Lake Tahoe Basin agencies manage clarity-reducing runoff, and has been in development since 2001, could be approved in two months.

The Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board will meet in South Lake Tahoe on Wednesday to give staff direction on how to incorporate the Lake Tahoe Total Maximum Daily Load into the Water Board’s Basin Plan.

The goal of the TMDL is to return Lake Tahoe to the clarity levels recorded in the late 1960s – when the lake averaged about 100 feet of clarity – by reducing fine sediment and nutrient input into the lake. Fine sediment scatters light and obscures Lake Tahoe’s depths, while the nutrients fuel algae growth.

The recommended changes include modifying the timeline for water quality compliance and formalizing researchers’ findings that fine sediment is a significant factor affecting clarity.

Water Board staff plan to bring the TMDL before the Water Board for adoption at their Nov. 9 and 10 meeting in Kings Beach. Staff will then work with stakeholders to update stormwater discharge permits by Fall 2011, according to Wednesday’s meeting agenda.

To achieve about 100 feet of clarity, fine sediment, phosphorus, and nitrogen loads entering Lake Tahoe must be reduced by 65 percent, 35 percent, and 10 percent, respectively, according to the Final Lake Tahoe TMDL Report, released in June. Achieving the reductions is expected to take 65 years.

An interim challenge to reach about 80 feet of clarity is expected to take 15 years and $1.5 billion, according to the report.

Water Board staff have asked that written comments on the draft Lake Tahoe TMDL Report and proposed Basin Plan Amendments be submitted no later than Sept. 10.

Wednesday’s meeting begins at 9 a.m. in the Lake Tahoe Community College Board Room at One College Drive in South Lake Tahoe.

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