County receives grant, looks to educate boaters |

County receives grant, looks to educate boaters

B.H. Bose

This past weekend, the start of National Clean Boating Week, the county and the city of South Lake Tahoe launched the marina program thanks to a $450,000 grant.

El Dorado County’s Environmental Management division and the city were awarded $468,000 by the California Integrated Waste Management Board specifically for a Lake Tahoe Marina Program. The program will focus on educating boaters about pollution.

“This is one of the largest grants ever received by the board,” said Virginia Huber, Tahoe division manager of the county’s environmental management division. “The other unique thing is it’s the first time funds … will be spent on public education for boating on the entire lake – as opposed to just the California side.”

The money was put to use Saturday and Sunday as city and county employees helped the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary with “The Tahoe Vessel Examination and Pollution Blitz.” The blitz included exhibits at marinas across the county, including Camp Richardson Anchorage Marina, Lakeside Marina and Tahoe Keys Marina. Other county agencies and marinas across the lake also participated.

Boaters and the general public received free boat bucket kits that included a lake blue bucket, absorbent diapers and pillows to soak up pollution such as motor oil and fuel, a floater key chain, and information regarding clean boating practices.

The exhibits were part of the effort to help save the clarity and overall health of Lake Tahoe by educating boaters as to what they can do to help clean up any pollutants that might enter the lake.

“There are a lot of people that just pump their bilge water straight into the lake. By educating the boaters, we can prevent contaminants from getting into the lake from that bilge water,” Huber said.

While it is a two-year grant from the waste management board, county and city officials look to provide educational activities and hope to have all boaters practice clean boating as soon as possible. The two governmental organizations will work with private companies, marinas, and individuals, along with other governmental agencies such as the Coast Guard, to provide used marine oil recycling facilities and educational pamphlets.

“We will provide marine oil recycling facilities at all the marinas on the lake which wish to participate,” Huber said, “and provide public education about the contaminants that enter the lake, like oil and fuel products.”

Partners in the program so far are local marinas, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, South Tahoe Refuse and local governments across the lake.

Anyone wishing more information about clean boating practices or upcoming exhibits may call Huber at El Dorado County Environmental Management at 573-3451 or Assistant City Manager Sue Schlerf at 542-6048.

“The county and city have done a great job in the past few years in providing oil recycling education and facilities for automobile enthusiasts,” Schlerf said. “However, we provided nothing for those folks who can have the most direct impact on the lake – the boaters.”

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