Homeowners wanted to eliminate erosion | SierraSun.com

Homeowners wanted to eliminate erosion

David Bunker
Sierra Sun

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency is requiring that Tahoe homeowners do their part to keep Tahoe clear, and local and state agencies are looking to help property owners out.

Erosion control requirements for property owners within the Tahoe Basin are coming up to deadline, and several governmental agencies are seeing if they can help homeowners on projects that often cost between $3,000 and $5,000.

Often referred to as Best Management Practices, the sediment control requirements include adding vegetation or detention basins that catch and filter runoff from homes and driveways so that sediment and nutrients do not run unfiltered into Lake Tahoe.

“It’s like thinking about gluing the soil down onto your property,” said Julie Regan, spokeswoman for the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

Incline Village homes had a deadline to complete the projects, which require landscaping and basins to be able to handle one inch of precipitation in one hour, by 2000. Most of the rest of North Tahoe has a 2008 deadline.

Lake Tahoe is losing its clarity by about one foot each year, officials say. Sixty percent of that clouding is caused by fine sediment, Regan said. The other 40 percent is caused by nutrients flowing into the lake, such as nitrogen and phosphorous.

Runoff from homes, driveways and roads are a big part of both clarity problems.

“A bare slope can send soil into the street and then it gets conveyed down the roadside ditch and into the lake,” said Scott Cecchi, a Tahoe Conservancy project manager who is working to see if governmental agencies can help homeowners with the projects.

Now the Tahoe Resource Conservation District, the Tahoe Conservancy and Placer County are exploring whether the governmental agencies can help out individual homeowners.

The groups are working specifically in the Brockway area, including Speedboat Avenue and eastward to the state line on both sides of Highway 28, to see what the need is for assistance in complying with the new Tahoe Regional Planning Agency requirements.

If almost all homeowners respond to a letter sent out on the program, the three agencies plan to help property owners fulfill the requirements from the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. Assistance could include free driveway paving, low-interest loans and free or cheap materials for the projects.

But first, the homeowners must respond and allow the conservancy to inspect the Brockway parcels to assess the needs of the area.

“People have to call us and invite us onto their property,” Cecchi said.

The groups have heard back from about 25 percent of homeowners. They are hoping for a response from each property.

One reason behind the program is to get homeowners to comply with the run-off requirements without having to levy fines that can range in the thousands of dollars.

“They’re trying to do enough projects and help out enough that people will do the right thing,” Cecchi said.

The conservancy and the Tahoe Resource Conservation District are not regulatory agencies and would take no enforcement action. The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency would enforce the requirements.