Tahoe Resource Conservation District

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Frequently Asked Questions: BMPs

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What is the Environmental Improvement Program?

The Environmental Improvement (EIP) Program is a comprehensive restoration program launched in 1997 as a private and public partnership launched after the 1997 Lake Tahoe Presidential Forum to protect and improve Lake Tahoe Basin’s natural and recreational resources. Hundreds of EIP projects are completed each year focusing on improving air, water, and scenic quality, forest health, fish and wildlife, and public access to the Lake and other recreation areas to improve the environment.  Many are water quality improvement and erosion control projects which incorporate stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs) implemented by the City, the Counties and state highways to reduce urban stormwater runoff to improve Lake clarity and near-shore conditions.

What is Urban Stormwater Runoff?

During rain storms and other precipitation events, hard surfaces such as roadways, concrete and rooftops carry stormwater to nearby storm drains and rivers that lead to Lake Tahoe instead of allowing the water to percolate through the soil. This natural filtering process is important for protecting Lake Tahoe’s clarity. The sediment and associated nutrients in stormwater runoff also feed algae and aquatic invasive species which negatively affect water quality, habitat, and aesthetic and recreation opportunities.

Do I still need to do my BMPs?

Yes. All private and public property owners in the Basin are required to install and maintain water quality Best Management Practices (BMPs) on developed properties. BMPs are proven methods that prevent sediment and nutrients from entering our waters, can help slow or reverse the loss of Lake clarity and improve near shore conditions. The push for program participation by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency may heighten when local stormwater jurisdictions are implementing EIP projects in your neighborhood. These water quality improvement projects collect and treat stormwater from the public roads, and the right-of-way. The public is being asked to do their part as well by installing BMPs that typically include: paving dirt driveways, protecting soil under roof drip lines, stabilizing or retaining steep slopes and loose soil, and vegetating and mulching bare soils, and installing stormwater retention systems which capture stormwater allowing it to soak into the soil instead of runoff the property. 

What is Source Control?

Source control BMPs are measures taken to specifically keep soil from leaving the property.  This approach excludes stormwater infiltration systems such as drywells and infiltration basins when infiltration isn’t feasible due to steep slopes or high groundwater. When these measures are implemented on properties where stormwater infiltration is challenging, the TPRA has issued BMP Source Control Certificates to recognize that the property owner has implemented these basic sediment control measures. In some instances, private property owners have been able to install joint stormwater infiltration systems, due to limitation on one or more individual properties, which have allowed all of the properties to receive TRPA BMP Certificates of Completion.

What is Area-wide Stormwater Treatment?

Area-wide stormwater treatment is a new approach to implementing cost efficient and effective urban stormwater management practices. A handful of these area-wide projects are underway in the Tahoe Basin to ensure capture and treatment of urban stormwater runoff where conditions such as proximity to lake, high ground water, or steep slopes can limit stormwater infiltration.  When these conditions exist, property owners may find that installing and maintaining BMPs on their property is significantly more challenging and costly. Participation in area-wide stormwater projects can offer incentives such as reduced capital outlay costs, joining a public-private partnership to maximize state and local funding and reduced maintenance costs.

What does the CWP program have to do with BMPs?

In order to assist with pollutant load reductions to Lake Tahoe, the Community Watershed Partnership (CWP) Program supports implementation of the Basin’s Environmental Improvement Program (EIP), a cooperative public/private effort to preserve, restore and enhance the environment of the Lake Tahoe Region. Through the development of the CWP Program the Tahoe Resource Conservation District (Tahoe RCD), the Nevada Tahoe Conservation District (NTCD), and the Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) have provided extensive technical assistance and education to private property owners in order to contribute to the reduction of pollutants that effect Lake Tahoe’s unique clarity, beauty and bountiful natural resources for future generations.

Why do I want to practice Lake Friendly Landscaping?

Lake friendly landscaping encourages sustainable practices that protect the region’s natural resources in our own backyards and communities. Lake friendly landscaping encourages property owners to use water, fertilizer and pesticides wisely, and to use native and adapted plants to benefit wildlife habitat while reducing soil erosion and wildfire risk. Through the CWP program, property owners can participate in Lake friendly landscape stewardship practices in a fun and creative way.