Runoff project may finally begin |

Runoff project may finally begin

Better late than never.

The idea first materialized more than 10 years ago, but construction on a project to control stormwater runoff in the Stateline casino core likely will start this summer.

“This is a very important (Environmental Improvement Program) project. Absolutely,” said Pam Drum, public affairs coordinator of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. “Treating the runoff from the highway system in that area and the private properties, including the casinos, is a critical need that must be fulfilled.”

The Governing Board of TRPA, Lake Tahoe’s bistate regulatory agency, this week will consider taking action to approve the project.

Some of Stateline’s casinos already have stormwater treatment systems on their properties, which include sand and oil separators, sediment traps and infiltration trenches. More individual systems will be built. And after that treatment, about 95 percent of the runoff will be routed to a common treatment facility.

The common facilities will treat the water with trash-rack and sand- and oil-separation vaults. It will also remove fine particles and hydrocarbons. From there, the water will discharge to wetlands on Edgewood Golf Course before going into Lake Tahoe.

“A lot of the work has been done over the past several years, but this will tie all the pieces together, so to speak,” said Gary Midkiff, consultant for the agencies involved.

Lake Tahoe’s clarity has declined at a rate of more than 1 foot a year for the last 30 years. The decline is largely attributable to urban stormwater runoff. Nature – without urbanization – is able to handle snow and rain. The forest floor naturally filters water, so it doesn’t carry sediment particles to the lake. However, urbanization cheats the process.

Throughout the basin, residents and businesses are implementing BMPs – Best Management Practices – to help control urban runoff and treat water on individual land parcels. The casino core project is, in a sense, one big BMP. The area is made up of 72 percent impervious land coverage.

Planning of the area-wide drainage system for the casino core began in 1988. TRPA adopted the Stateline Community Plan in 1993, which required the implementation of the area-wide drainage and treatment facility. All the contributing agencies in that area, except Wells Fargo Bank, signed a Stateline Regional Storm Water Treatment Disposal System Agreement in early 1997. Bill’s Lake Tahoe Casino, Caesars Tahoe, Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, Harveys Resort Hotel/Casino, Horizon Casino Resort, Douglas County and the Nevada Department of Transportation comprise the Storm Water Association.

Costs for the project, including those for treatment facilities already built on some of the properties, are likely around $20 million, according to Midkiff, the consultant for the Storm Water Association. Construction is scheduled to begin June 2, and the project is expected to be completed by the end of June 2000.

The drainage project is identified in TRPA’s Environmental Improvement Program, the document that outlines what measures need to be taken over the next decade in order to save the clarity of Lake Tahoe.

“It’s a big deal. It’s a real water-quality benefit to get that done,” said Jim Baetge, executive director of TRPA. “It’s a really positive that we’re going to get to work on that this year.”


What: Meeting of the Governing Board of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency

When: March 24, 9:30 a.m.

Where: North Tahoe Conference Center, 8318 North Lake Blvd., Kings Beach

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