City creates funding mechanism for stormwater project |

City creates funding mechanism for stormwater project

Tom Lotshaw

South Lake Tahoe has created a community facilities district for properties to help pay for operation and maintenance of the $15 million Bijou Erosion Control project and meet their own stormwater requirements.

South Lake Tahoe City Council finalized the district’s creation this week.

“This will have a major effect on water quality in that area and has been sorely needed for a long, long time,” Councilor Tom Davis said about the project and the tax district to help pay for its upkeep.

Properties within a 42-acre area that the stormwater collection and treatment project will serve can opt into the community facilities district and pay 10 cents per square foot of impervious surface coverage each year.

City officials said it’s a cost-effective way for property owners to meet their own erosion control and stormwater infiltration requirements under the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s Best Management Practices program.

Properties that voluntary opt into the district and help pay for the area-wide system’s upkeep will get a BMP certificate.

Otherwise, to install their own BMP projects to get a certificate, property owners face costs averaging $1.27 to $3 per square foot of impervious surface, not including the cost of lost parking and development opportunity and costs of ongoing BMP maintenance, according to city officials.

The Bijou erosion control project is under construction and scheduled to go online this year.

The project will collect stormwater runoff in the heavily developed Bijou commercial area, funnel the stormwater into underground tanks for sediment to settle out and then pump it up to infiltration basins on U.S. Forest Service property. It also improves conveyance of the 1,200-acre Bijou Creek watershed where it flows through the city.

Caltrans, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, California Tahoe Conservancy, U.S. Forest Service and the State Water Quality Control Board also contributed funding for the city project.

Ten of the 43 properties eligible to participate in the community facilities district have signed up for it, said Ray Jarvis, director of public works for South Lake Tahoe.

The district and its annual assessment are structured so that if all 43 properties participate they will cover about half of the $112,403 estimated annual maintenance cost. Most of the eligible properties are commercial properties.

The Bijou erosion control project will take care of about one-third of the city’s requirement to reduce its stormwater pollutant loads under the Total Maximum Daily Load program over a five-year period. “That’s a substantial improvement,” Jarvis said.

The goal of such projects is to keep fine sediment and other pollutants from washing into Lake Tahoe with stormwater runoff.

“Some people are complaining that we spent $12 million to $15 million for 10 pieces of property. That’s not right,” Jarvis said. “Whether or not all of the properties sign up, we still would have had to do the project. We are treating water being discharged into the lake, which would have to be done anyway to comply with our own permit requirements. All we’re doing with the district is giving folks a chance to participate, get their BMP certificates and help offset the cost.”

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