River restoration close to fruition: Idea to reduce airport runway scrapped | TahoeDailyTribune.com

River restoration close to fruition: Idea to reduce airport runway scrapped

Amanda Fehd

A task force has ruled out the possibility of reducing the Lake Tahoe Airport’s runway for a river restoration project because it is apparently too cost prohibitive.

The project aims to meander a 4,000-foot section of the Upper Truckee River in order to restore fish and wildlife habitat. It would also increase river’s ability to flood into the adjacent meadow, which can help reduce sediment flowing into Lake Tahoe.

An engineer with consulting firm Entrix gave a presentation on the project to the South Lake Tahoe City Council on Tuesday. Michael Rudd said the project will cost around $4 million and construction could begin next year.

There are four similar projects under study at other sections of the river between the bridge at South Upper Truckee Road and its outlet into Lake Tahoe.

The project will be funded by the California Tahoe Conservancy.

An environmental review found that reducing the airport runway and removing sewage lines could result in a 20 percent greater benefit to restoring water quality, habitat and natural hydrological function. But the option would cost five times as much and would not begin construction as soon.

The task force decided on a less extensive project that would still result in significant improvements to the area.

City Councilman Mike Weber asked a series of questions on how much each option would benefit Lake Tahoe.

“The channel is rip-rapped, there’s no habitat there,” Rudd said. “There’s no flood plain function going on to allow for wildlife and aquatic habitat. It’s not a water quality project, it’s a restoration project.”

John Friedrich with the League to Save Lake Tahoe said the sewer lines will eventually have to be replaced anyway, and pushed for keeping that alternative open as an option.

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