TRPA zeros in on fertilizer users |

TRPA zeros in on fertilizer users

Guidelines for fertilizer use and an increase in a car rental fee are issues to be discussed Wednesday by Lake Tahoe Basin planners.

Many golf courses at the basin have their own fertilizer management programs, but the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency aims to formally regulate all large-scale users of fertilizer.

Fertilizer contains phosphorous and nitrogen, which cause algae to grow in Lake Tahoe and cloud its water.

Large-scale users, which would include owners of plant nurseries, parks and ball fields, would need to track their use and report soil and water test results to the TRPA every year.

Guidelines for fertilizer management will be introduced to the agency’s Advisory Planning Commission on Wednesday. Any changes to TRPA code are not expected until December.

“Golf courses make a good target,” said Gary Midkiff, a consultant who is an expert on TRPA-related issues. Midkiff has worked for about eight months with TRPA staff on the fertilizer guidelines on behalf of Edgewood-Tahoe Golf Course and The Golf Courses at Incline Village.

He said his work has been to ensure the language created for the regulations are not too restrictive and, in turn, have an impact on the basin’s economy.

“At Edgewood, testing shows water is cleaner when it leaves the site than when it enters the site,” Midkiff said. “We just don’t want the agency to adopt new rules as knee-jerk reaction without looking at the data.”

A goal of the agency is also to educate residents about appropriate fertilizer use.

“There are a lot more individuals putting fertilizer on lawns than turf grass managers,” Midkiff said. “Most turf managers tend to be on a budget and are more sophisticated about what they do.”

The 2001 Threshold Evaluation, a five-year environmental progress report released December 2001, recommended that a system be created to regulate fertilizer. The recommendation said the system should be ready before any home building is approved for the basin in 2003.

Water quality issues aside, the TRPA on Wednesday will also discuss increasing a car rental fee from $4.50 to $4.75 a day. The environmental fee, instituted in 1993 to fund air quality projects, has raised more than $750,000, about $400,000 of which has gone to support public trolley systems on the South Shore and North Shore.

“People from out of state that come in don’t ever have a real issue with it,” said Kevin Bass, area manager at Enterprise Rent-A-Car in Stateline. “It’s pretty self-explanatory. Keeping Tahoe blue. We don’t get a lot of grief about it.”

People who live at the basin are not charged the fee if they show proof of residency, Bass said.

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

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