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Watching water quality

Seth Lightcap/Sierra Sun
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Following mandated efforts to control runoff and erosion, Truckee and Placer County are taking the next step to keep tabs on water quality along the Truckee River.

The Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board first mandated the town and county implement a Storm Water Management Program to reduce runoff into the Truckee River Watershed. Now both municipalities are taking the second step ” creating a plan to monitor water quality that insures the previous steps are affective.

“This for me is an important issue,” said Truckee Council Member Richard Anderson. “The reason I got involved in local politics was water quality.”



The Truckee Town Council last week authorized the submittal of the Truckee River Water Quality Monitoring Plan to the water quality control board, as did the Placer County Board of Supervisors this week.

Truckee staff picked Trout Creek and Donner Lake as two of the three initial monitoring stations because grants have already been secured for water quality in those locations, but a third site on the Truckee River near downtown is still un-funded, said Dan Wilkins, director of public works for Truckee.



Placer County is considering a number of monitoring locations on the Truckee River, in Squaw Creek, and elsewhere in the watershed, said Mary Keller, Placer County’s storm water program coordinator.

She said the county has applied for a Sierra Nevada Conservancy grant to help defray the cost.

Individual monitoring stations, along with the lab work involved in analyzing samples, would run about $20,000 a year, Wilkins said.

“We as a town council need to decide how to finance this program,” Anderson said. “From my perspective the plan isn’t overly burdensome ” worst case it’s 1 percent of the general fund budget.”

Wilkins said the plan would also likely include a way to incorporate and standardize water quality monitoring work being done by Truckee, Placer County, the Truckee River Watershed Council, and other entities.

“We are really excited about the potential for data sharing,” said Beth Christman, program manager for the watershed council.

Because the monitoring plan is designed to make sure the Town of Truckee and Placer County’s Storm Water Management Programs are working, Dan Wilkins, director of public works for Truckee, said the stations will be put in areas of high runoff.

“We are focusing on sediment and turbidity because that’s what the Truckee River has been identified as impaired for,” Wilkins said.

Other possible forms of monitoring could keep track of macro-invertebrate populations, he said, which are indicator species for the health of the water body.


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