Dredging projects underway
Dredging projects at Lake Tahoe’s South Shore have gotten underway this week, as those in the boating community find ways to deal with declining water levels.
The Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board has approved maintenance dredging permits for Tahoe Keys Property Owners Association, Tahoe Keys Marina and Ski Run Marina on Tahoe’s South Shore.
Ski Run Marina started dredging Tuesday. TKPOA’s project started Wednesday.
The smallest of the three projects, the dredging of Ski Run Marina, consists of removing about 250 cubic yards of underwater materials at the marina’s entrance to an elevation of 6,219 feet above sea level, according to the permit.
On Tuesday, Lake Tahoe’s water level was at 6,222.83 feet above sea level — just below it’s natural 6,223-foot rim. But with little precipitation over the wet season, that number is only expected to shrink.
“We were able to get (boats) out one at a time, which is fine for now,” Ski Run Marina Owner Elie Alyeshmerni said Tuesday, “but we are preparing for a good summer.”
The last time dredging occurred at the marina was in 2013. Alyeshmerni said this year’s work will take about four days to complete.
Dredging is also expected soon in the Tahoe Keys area, where the marina is awaiting final approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The Tahoe Keys Marina project would remove accumulated sand within the east channel to the approved depth of 6,215 feet, according to the permit from Lahontan. A total of 4,200 cubic yards of material will be removed at the site with an excavator stationed on a floating barge.
Heather Starr, office manager for the Tahoe Keys Marina, said the business hopes to receive the green light from the Army Corps of Engineers this week.
“We are going to put our dirt in a pile to de-water, and then we have to scoop that dirt onto a barge,” she said. “Then we take the barge back to a travel lift, lift that out and truck it into the back yard area. We are going to do that 333 times and then we will be done.”
Starr said the entire project is expected to take about two months, and that the marina is shooting for a June 1 completion date.
Meanwhile, the TKPOA has also received a permit from Lahontan and plans to dredge the Keys’ west channel starting this week.
That project consists of maintenance dredging up to 5,600 cubic yards of sand to a depth of 6,217 feet, according to the permit. It also involves placing the removed sandy material on a beach area to the east of the channel for beach replenishment.
TKPOA General Manager Kirk Woolridge said Tuesday the TKPOA expects the project to be complete by May 21, with the possibility of finishing two weeks early.
All three projects will utilize turbidity curtains to help contain suspended sediment associated with the dredging. However, at least one South Shore resident is concerned the measures aren’t enough to protect the lake, and that dredging during a drought could be particularly harmful.
“I’m sure they (the turbidity curtains) help, but do they actually prohibit everything from getting in the lake? I don’t think so,” longtime resident Leona Allen said.
Alyeshmerni, who is also president of the Lake Tahoe Marina Association, said he understands those concerns, and that protecting the lake is in the marinas’ best interest as well.
“I think that what a lot of people don’t understand, but should understand, is that marina owners around the lake have a lot to lose if the lake loses clarity, if the lake has a problem or whatever,” he said, “because our livelihood is from that and from being good stewards of the lake. So it is very important for us to do it right.”