Students fight to keep Tahoe blue
Peering deep into parking lot stormdrains and taking pictures of native plant gardens, Tahoe Lake elementary school fifth graders have begun collecting data for an erosion control project that hopes to reduce sediment runoff into Lake Tahoe from the school property.
The study was developed in conjunction with the Sierra Watershed Education Project and will monitor the volume of sediment that is sloughed from parking lot slopes and into surrounding stormdrains.
Both Tahoe Lake fifth grade classes are involved, as Rebekka Fine’s class is heading up the first round of drain monitoring and Dave Goggin’s class will use photo monitoring techniques to examine the amount of water used by native plants that have been established on slopes surrounding the parking lot.
After having been briefed by watershed education project educators earlier in the school year, the student inspections began last Friday as Fine’s class began their monthly observations of the various parking lot drains. Using wire measuring sticks and taking snapshots of drain conditions, the students made sure sediment had not collected more than one or two inches in depth depending on the type of drain filter observed. If sediment was above critical levels the drain was marked to have debris removed with a shovel or shop-vac within the week.
“We’re trying to make sure the pipes aren’t clogged because we don’t want water to runoff to the lake dirty,” said student Nicole Marinoff between measurements.
Fellow student Erica Backhus put the importance of their work in perspective,
“We don’t want Lake Tahoe to be like Clear Lake which is not clear and smells really bad!”
Halfway through the school year the two fifth grade classes will switch projects with each class training the other on the new study techniques. At the end of the school year the fifth graders will train the fourth graders to help continue the study next year. All the collected data will be submitted to the Placer County Department of Public Works as a facet of the school’s ongoing compliance in drainage best management practices.
“Our district has a rich history of teaching through community stewardship and this project follows perfectly in that tradition.” said teacher Mrs. Fine.