Stormwater to be studied in the Tahoe Basin |

Stormwater to be studied in the Tahoe Basin

A South Shore drinking water supplier may spend $150,000 to determine whether rain, which washes off roads and sits in designer ditches, pollutes groundwater.

Funneling water from the streets into ditches to filter runoff is a technique commonly used at the Lake Tahoe Basin. The ditches allow sediment to separate from the water before it drains into the lake and decreases its clarity.

South Tahoe Public Utility District, with matching funds from the U.S. Forest Service, has prepared a two-year study to figure out if the ditches, or basins, do allow oil, gasoline and other products to leech into any groundwater.

The issue is expected to be discussed by the district board when it meets today in the City Council Chambers at 2 p.m.

“We only have enough money to look at two retention basins,” said Ivo Bergsohn, district hydrogeologist. “The first part of study we’ll try to identify which basin is most likely to receive petroleum and hydrocarbon contaminants.”

If approved by the board, work on the study, which will take two years to complete, would begin next month.

In total, the study is expected to cost $300,000, with the Forest Service’s contribution to be provided by the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act. It is the federal government portion of the Environmental Improvement Program, a list of about 900 projects needed at the basin, estimated to cost $1.5 billion.

— Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or at

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