Tahoe Keys channel to be dredged by Memorial Day | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Tahoe Keys channel to be dredged by Memorial Day

Gregory Crofton
Jim Grant/Tahoe Daily Tribune Sand and dirt will be dredged out of the west channel of the Tahoe Keys before the end of May. The work will make it easier for sailboats to pass. through.

Expect relief this summer if you own a sailboat with a long keel and like to use the west channel of the Tahoe Keys.

Sailors last summer had difficulty navigating the channel because of low water levels and sand buildup.

The Tahoe Key Property Owners Association plan to have about 1 foot of sand removed along 850 feet at the mouth of the channel by the end of May.

The project will likely cost between $600,000 and $700,000 and require about 10 days of suction dredging to complete, said Jill Southerland, lead administrator for the Tahoe Keys Property Owners Association.

“We don’t have a real firm timeline down but we’ll have bidders walking the job this week,” Southerland said. “And we have all the permits in hand.”

A meeting is scheduled April 16 in the Tahoe Keys Pavilion at 3 p.m. to discuss final plans for the project.

The more than 1,500 property owners affected by the dredging will not have to pay a special fee to finance it. Instead the money will be drawn from a “common reserve” fund, Southerland said.

Dredging in the Keys last occurred in the fall of 2002 when the east channel, which is about a half-mile from the west channel and leads to Tahoe Keys Marina, was dug out.

Co-owner of the marina Richard Horton says the dredging project should keep the channel passable for about 10 years, until “the wave action slowly washes sand in and brings it back up.”

Horton’s project required an elaborate set of holding ponds to separate the water and dirt sucked from the channel. Once the water had been filtered to state standards, it was released in a meadow across from the marina.

The upcoming dredging project will rely on machines to separate the dirt and water. The machinery will be set up in the parking lot of the Tahoe Keys Pavilion.

The dirt will be hauled off and used for asphalt. Any material that contains too much of a pollutant will be treated as hazardous material and trucked to a landfill outside of Reno. The filtered water will end up going back in the lake.

The Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board doesn’t mandate that dredging in the lake is done by suction. But the agency encourages the use of a suction dredge over a backhoe because it limits impacts on the lake environment, said Lauri Kemper, watershed division manager at Lahontan.

Permits issued by Lahontan for the project require frequent water quality testing to ensure the dredging is not stirring up sediment. The disturbance could release nutrients like phosphorous and nitrogen into the water and fuel algae growth.

– Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at gcrofton@tahoedailytribune.com

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