Environmental officials from Nevada and California say local governments in the Tahoe Basin are meeting their targets to reduce urban stormwater pollution in the lake.
Urban and stormwater pollution are regarded as a major contributor to the loss of clarity in the lake’s famously-clear waters.
“Because of this work, more than 268,500 pounds of fine sediment particles, which equates to about 70 dump truck loads of fine sediment, will no longer be washing into the lake each year,” said Patty Kouyourmdjian, executive officer of the Lahontan Water Board.
She said local governments and highway departments collectively exceeded the first year’s target in the five-year program, reducing fine sediment by 10 percent.
“That accomplishment of this first round of reductions is a major milestone for Lake Tahoe,” she said.
According to the report by the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection and the California Regional Water Board, officials haven’t only reduced the amount of abrasives applied to roads, they’ve improved recovery of those materials by installing stormwater treatment systems to capture and clean dirty runoff.
The program is attempting to restore Lake Tahoe’s clarity to its historic level of 97.4 feet by reducing pollutants that wash into the lake.
The lake’s clarity reached an all time low in 1997 when the test disk used to determine clarity could only be seen 64 feet below the surface. By 2016, clarity had increased to 73 feet. A spokesman said the next target is 78 feet by 2026.