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Homeowners opportunity to contribute to water quality

Andy Bourelle

If you live, own a business or have land near the South Shore and want to help preserve the clarity of Lake Tahoe, there is a good chance the Upper Truckee Focused Watershed Group wants your assistance.

Federal money is available to help with watershed restoration projects, and the group wants residents and agencies to take advantage of it.

Officials have come up with a draft plan of the Upper Truckee River Watershed Ecosystem Restoration Study, the first step in implementing restoration projects in the Upper Truckee River’s watershed that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will help fund.

“We’re at the very beginning of this project,” said Chris Adair, facilitator of the Upper Truckee Focused Watershed Group and associate water resource control engineer for the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board. “I see this as a collaborative effort, and everyone’s going to have to be involved to make it work.”

The project has three phases: Phase 1, an initial scoping to identify existing information and develop a framework for the next phases; Phase 2, preparation of a comprehensive, multi-agency action plan for restoring environmental resources; and, Phase 3, preparation for implementation of parts of the action plan.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will share the costs of projects identified in the plan. The federal agency will provide a 50-percent match to any planning costs, and half of the local match can come from in-kind services. The Army Corps also will provide a 65-percent match to project implementation, and all of that local match can come from in-kind services.

“We want to encourage everyone in the watershed to get involved as we identify projects,” Adair said. “We can defer portions of the costs (of restoration projects) by having them identified in the plan. We really want people to come and get involved because it’s to their benefit.”

The Upper Truckee River watershed, which includes Taylor Creek and its watershed, encompasses about 100 square miles, stretching from the southern shore of the lake south into Alpine County.

Of the 63 tributaries to Lake Tahoe, the Upper Truckee River is the largest, providing about 30 percent of the annual flow of water into the lake. Tributaries of the river include Echo, Angora, Grass lakes and Big Meadows creeks. Trout Creek’s tributaries include Heavenly Valley, Cold and Saxon creeks.

As a large in-flow source for the lake, the watershed also is a major source of sediment and erosion problems, which degrade the clarity of the lake.

“Our focus is the restoration of this one area of the entire (Lake Tahoe) watershed that has been damaged due to past historical practices,” Adair said. “It’s a very focused project. We’re trying to get everyone to work together on this same thing.”

Earlier this month, Lahontan’s governing board approved the expenditure of $100,000 for the project, to start the process of receiving matching funds.

Adair said the watershed group is in the process of explaining the project to other stakeholders: Government agencies, home owners’ associations, private landowners and others.

At the regular meeting of the South Tahoe Public Utility District today, a presentation about the project is scheduled at 4 p.m.

For additional information about the Upper Truckee River Watershed Ecosystem Restoration Study, contact Chris Adair at (530) 542-5433

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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