The early storm event that began on January 7 with over 5 inches of rain in some regions of the Lake Tahoe Basin before turning to snow, delivered a massive amount of runoff to the Lake in a short period of time. During this storm event the Tahoe RCD Stormwater Monitoring Program measured the highest flows ever recorded at all eight monitoring locations since monitoring began in 2013. Our Tahoe Valley site, located off Tahoe Keys Blvd, measured 1.5 million cubic feet of flow, nearly 90% of the flow that was observed throughout the whole 2016 water year!
The Tahoe RCD monitors urban stormwater runoff around the Lake Tahoe Basin, providing the science that helps guide stormwater managers in environmental improvement project design and informs them if projects and management strategies have been successful in reducing pollutant loading to Lake Tahoe. Each stormwater sample is analyzed for fine sediment particles (FSP), nitrogen, and phosphorus to estimate nutrient and sediment loading from urban stormwater runoff. This last storm produced over 18 million gallons of runoff just from the sites we monitor alone. All data collected throughout a “water year”, October to September, is compiled into an annual monitoring report, given to stormwater managers and posted on the Tahoe RCD website. With successful implementation of environmental improvement projects that promote infiltration of runoff before it gets discharged to the lake, we have had the pleasure of retiring two of our urban stormwater monitoring sites as we saw significant reductions in pollutant loading from these locations.
The Stormwater Monitoring Program is continuously looking for ways to improve stormwater monitoring efforts. New for the 2017 monitoring season, the majority of our sites were outfitted with remote monitoring equipment, allowing us to monitor these sites with smartphones. The new remotely accessible equipment effectively allows our team to view what is happening at our monitoring sites in real time, and determine the best way to manage each individual site during storm events. Our scientific monitoring team is deployed in the most inclement of weather, because good science doesn’t take a break. The severity of this recent storm brought downed trees, dangerous road conditions, and a wealth of water. However, with these remote monitoring systems in place, our team was able to monitor all of our sites without making extensive trips into the field from the safety and comfort of our homes. This new remote technology allows for more reliable data management and easier data reporting.
Lake Tahoe, CA
In 2010, the Tahoe Resource Conservation District (Tahoe RCD), in collaboration with the Lake Tahoe Aquatic Invasive Species Program, began treatment of approximately six acres of aquatic invasive plants in the nearshore by Vikingsholm in the iconic Emerald Bay. The control methods included bottom barriers, which kill plants by eliminating light, and diver-assisted suction removal, which physically removes plants and roots. After four years of comprehensive treatment, Emerald Bay remains free of aquatic invasive plants.
Using this integrated approach, other locations around the Lake Tahoe Basin are being addressed. An Implementation Plan for the Control of Aquatic Invasive Species within Lake Tahoe developed by University of Nevada Reno in 2015 is guiding the way. The Implementation Plan uses an ecological and scientifically-based framework to determine site prioritization, which calls for controlling satellite populations in an effort to achieve containment. In 2016 Tahoe RCD treated 4.5 acres at Lakeside Marina and Beach, Crystal Shores marinas, Fleur du Lac’s outer harbor and in the Truckee River. This winter a new infestation at the Tahoe Vista boat launch will be tackled. Treatment of Eurasian watermilfoil is important for water quality because the invasive plant raises pH, decreases oxygen, and increases water temperature, all of which alter the ecosystem and negatively impact recreation and public safety.
“From our efforts in Emerald Bay, we know that invasive plant populations can be reduced, and with continued treatments, we will be able to better manage populations around the lake in the future,” said Tahoe RCD District Manager Kim Boyd.
Tahoe RCD anticipates the continuation of aquatic plant control efforts in Lake Tahoe and the Truckee River for years to come. While bottom barriers and diver-assisted suction removal have proven to be successful, there is a need to identify other techniques that could help us get ahead of the battle, particularly with persistent plant species such as curlyleaf pondweed. The potential to use ultra-violet light will increase the effective techniques available to Tahoe RCD especially in low water years and in tight spaces within marinas. Ultra-violet light has proven in lab studies and small field tests to damage the DNA and cellular structure of aquatic plants causing it to die back. Tahoe RCD will continue to work with partners this winter to finalize environmental documentation and permitting so UV light can be tested in Lake Tahoe in 2017.
“We are excited about working with our partners to explore new technology that can be added to the toolbox,” said Boyd, “A project using UV light to reduce aquatic plant infestations is being developed and is expected to launch in spring 2017.”
Funding for these projects has been provided by the Truckee River Fund, the Tahoe Fund, the Rotary Club of Tahoe City, California Tahoe Conservancy, and Nevada Division of State Lands.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) today announced the award of up to $4,000,000 in Proposition 1 funds to the Tahoe Resource Conservation District (Tahoe RCD) to partner with the California Tahoe Conservancy and the Tahoe Fund to seek acquisition of the Johnson Meadows Property located in South Lake Tahoe. The approximately 209-acre property is the largest privately owned meadow in the Lake Tahoe Basin and the last large private property holding in the lower nine miles of the Upper Truckee River (UTR).
The funding from DFW combines with $4,234,000 awarded to the Tahoe RCD by the California Tahoe Conservancy in March 2016. The Tahoe Fund is also a funding partner and will be seeking to raise an additional $100,000 to help secure the entire $8,315,000 necessary to acquire the Property.
“If completed, the acquisition of the Johnson Meadow Property will be one of the most important public land purchases in the last decade in the Lake Tahoe Basin,” said Kim Boyd, District Manager at the Tahoe RCD. “The Property would connect over 1,000 acres of UTR floodplain in near continuous public ownership within the UTR’s lower nine miles.”
Acquisition of the Property would preserve wildlife habitat and open space, create public access to the UTR, and prevent additional environmental degradation from grazing. Additionally, acquisition of the property could lead to potential future restoration opportunities such as floodplain enhancement, sediment filtration improvement, and wet meadow habitat enrichment.
“This potential acquisition places virtually the entire river corridor in public ownership,” said California Tahoe Conservancy Executive Director Patrick Wright, who noted that the Conservancy, the U.S. Forest Service, the City of South Lake Tahoe, and California State Parks have all been working to restore various stretches of the river, the largest watershed in the Lake Tahoe Basin and the highest contributor of fine sediment that impacts the lake’s clarity. The Tahoe RCD hopes to complete negotiations with the land owners to enable the acquisition by the end of 2017.
Starting in October boat inspections will move to select launch ramps and winter hours will begin. Tahoe Resource Conservation District (Tahoe RCD) inspectors will be stationed at Cave Rock and Lake Forest boat launches from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. seven days a week, weather and construction permitting. All boats without an intact Tahoe inspection seal are required to get an inspection during daylight hours. Decontaminations are available at Cave Rock and Lake Forest throughout October as long as weather permits. Decontamination fees will apply for watercraft that are not clean, drained and dry. “Clean, Drain and Dry” watercraft that have been in a known infested waterbody will also require a precautionary decontamination at no cost. Boats with intact inspection seals are permitted to launch at all open launch facilities; however, inspections are only available at Cave Rock and Lake Forest. Boaters are encouraged to confirm hours and inspection locations online at TahoeBoatInspections.com or by calling the toll-free hotline at 888-824-6267.
“It is more efficient to move inspections back to the boat ramps with the decrease in boater traffic during the slower fall and winter months,” said Dennis Zabaglo, aquatic resources program manager at the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, “but we will continue operations at roadside inspection locations for the 2017 summer boating season. We appreciate the continued cooperation from Tahoe boaters in helping to protect our amazing recreational resources from the threat of aquatic invasive species and supporting our nationally recognized prevention program.”
According to monitoring and scientific reports, Lake Tahoe remains free of new invasive species introductions, which are major threats to the overall health of Lake Tahoe and surrounding waterbodies. During the 2016 boating season, Tahoe RCD watercraft inspectors performed more than 7,500 inspections. In total, more than 15,000 vessels launched at Lake Tahoe, including both newly inspected vessels and those with intact Tahoe-issued inspection seals.
As watercraft continue to arrive from high-risk waters, the importance of Lake Tahoe’s Watercraft Inspection Program remains critical. In fact, in 2016, 35 of the inspected watercraft were harboring aquatic invasive plants, mussels or snails. With our efficient roadside inspection stations, Tahoe RCD decontaminated approximately 3,500 watercraft with hot water, preventing invasive species from entering Tahoe’s waters.
“We would like to thank the thousands of boaters who arrived at our Watercraft Inspection Stations with their watercraft clean, drained and dry,” said Nicole Cartwright, aquatic invasive species program manager for Tahoe RCD. “These boaters were able to get on the water faster and avoided paying the additional fees.”
Tahoe RCD continues to support aquatic invasive species prevention efforts in the Truckee region. Tahoe RCD partnered with the Town of Truckee to provide watercraft inspections and decontaminations for Donner Lake at our Truckee-Tahoe watercraft inspection station. Please join the Town of Truckee at 6pm Wednesday September 28th at Town Hall in the Council Chambers for their second public workshop about the future of Donner Lake’s prevention program. Tahoe RCD watercraft inspectors also educated over 3,000 boaters and paddlers about preventing the introduction of aquatic invasive species at Prosser and Boca Reservoirs in Nevada County and Stampede Reservoir in Sierra County.
Prevention efforts for over 12,000 paddlers in the Region occurred at beach kiosks, boat ramps and park entrances. Watercrafts were assessed for their risk of transporting aquatic invasive species from previously visited waterbodies. Paddlers were also educated about self-inspecting and decontaminating canoes, kayaks and paddleboards and encouraged to become a Tahoe Keeper (TahoeKeepers.org).
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. and TAHOE CITY, Calif. – August 22, 2016 – In an effort to spur innovation in Tahoe, the Tahoe Fund announced that it is providing the initial funds for a project that will evaluate UV light as a new method to remove aquatic invasive weeds. This innovative approach that will be used in a pilot program at Lakeside Marina and Beach could change the way aquatic invasive weeds are controlled in Tahoe’s watershed and beyond if successful.
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Recent Posts & Press Releases
- Tahoe RCD Records Largest Stormwater Flows at Monitoring Sites
- Landscape Conservation Survey
- Headway made in fight against aquatic invasive plants
- Five Ways to Keep Fire on the Agenda – by Dr. Elwood Miller, Coordinator for the Nevada Network of Fire Adapted Communities
- Additional Funding Secured for Johnson Meadow Acquisition
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