Basin streams, lakes review up |

Basin streams, lakes review up

Emily Aughinbaugh

Lake Tahoe Basin lakes, streams and wetlands are once again up for review.

The Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board is asking for quantitative data about the quality of Tahoe’s surface waters as part of a two-year assessment required by the federal Clean Water Act.

Heavenly Valley, Blackwood and Ward creeks have all been considered substandard by the Environmental Protection Agency. Lake Tahoe itself made the EPA’s substandard list in 1988 for failing to meet clarity and productivity criterion, said Judith Unsicker, Lahontan environmental specialist.

Unsicker said Lahontan will take complaints by the general public on lack of clarity or smell of surface waters or damage to stream beds. However, she said Lahontan is mainly seeking scientific information the organization usually gains from environmental groups.

Unsicker said Lahontan will receive data from the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency as the bistate agency reevaluates its thresholds this year.

She said the EPA’s listing process started in early 1970 to identify points of discharge that were polluting the nation’s waters.

Since Tahoe’s clarity problems usually stem from discharges that aren’t specific like sewage systems, Unsicker said the problem is harder to treat.

Once a body of water is put on the list, a cleanup strategy is devised and local agency’s usually discuss implementation options.

Although many cleanup strategies have been devised by TRPA, like the Environmental Improvement Plan, Lahontan has yet to develop a grand plan.

Unsicker said she hoped the water quality agency would create cleanup strategies by 2005, coordinating efforts with TRPA’s revision of its 20-year regional plan.

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