Funding for Lake Tahoe still looks good | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Funding for Lake Tahoe still looks good

Gregory Crofton, Tahoe Daily Tribune

The Lake Tahoe Basin is on target in its financing of the Environmental Improvement Program, an initiative established in 1997 to save and protect lake clarity.

“When you add up all the monies it’s $435 million coming to Lake Tahoe,” said Juan Palma, executive director at the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. “I think that’s a real reflection of Lake Tahoe, where so many people, so many partners, are involved.”

In 1997, groups in the basin estimated it would cost $908 million over 10 years to implement the hundreds of erosion control and water quality projects needed.

About $300 million would come from California and Nevada, another $300 million was promised by the federal government, while funds from local governments and private groups would cover the rest of the cost.

So far, California has committed $170.6 million and has another $40 million in bond initiatives expected on the November ballot. Nevada has approved $82 million in bonds.

The federal government has delivered $102 million, which doesn’t include an additional $25 to $30 million if the budget passes in October, said Lynda Hyce, EIP division chief at TRPA.

Local governments have contributed $39.9 million to the program, mostly with fees to compensate for the impacts of building on the environment.

Private and commercial parties have spent $41 million, mostly in Best Management Practices — required environmental improvements meant to protect Lake Tahoe.

“It is good news on the EIP money,” Hyce said. “But we don’t want to make it sound too rosy. We’re still working hard to develop long-term maintenance and operational funding for local governments. We have to keep up the momentum.”

TRPA staff plans an update on the EIP by early next year. Some of the 700 to 800 projects listed for the program will take up to 15 years to implement. The environmental projects will also require money for maintenance.

Unofficial estimates have increased the cost of the EIP, if it includes an extension of the program to 15 years and maintenance costs, to $1.4 billion.

Many wonder how the basin would get from $435 million to possibly more than $1 billion.

“We expect federal appropriations to continue,” Hyce said. “The (Lake Tahoe) Restoration Act authorized $300 million, and additional money may come from California as well as local governments and private contributors. But we won’t do that without continued support and having good effective (project) completions.”

— Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or at gcrofton@tahoedailytribune.com


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