Water quality at issue in Pathway plan | SierraSun.com

Water quality at issue in Pathway plan

The League to Save Lake Tahoe has questioned whether a proposed regional plan does enough to reverse Lake Tahoe’s declining water clarity.

During a workshop on the Pathway 2007 plan at Sierra Nevada College last week, Rochelle Nason, executive director of the League to Save Lake Tahoe, said water quality is not given enough emphasis because it is being treated as a separate issue instead of the overall goal of the proposed 20-year guide for Tahoe basin policies.

Others were reluctant about sitting at a round-table to diagram their wants, needs and concerns, an exercise oft-employed by Pathway 2007 consultant and agency heads.

“I think what you’re doing is manipulative,” said Jerome Evans, a Pathway Forum parks and recreation chairman representing South Shore residents.

“We sit here in these tables and draw on paper and then you don’t come up with what we say ” some of our names shouldn’t be on this.”

The document Evans referred to is the Draft Regional Vision document – which, according to Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Executive Director John Singlaub, “has taken into consideration input from literally thousands and thousands of people.”

But the end results, specifically the draft plan’s solution to preserve the lake’s health and clarity, wasn’t what some basin environmental watchdogs expected.

“I lot of things we talked about didn’t make it into this plan,” Nason said. “I think some of the ideas are there, but it’s a plan with lots of holes. Why don’t we just take a step back and create a much more succinct plan that everyone can get behind?”

Dinsmore SIERRA consultant Bruce Race acted as the group facilitator for the room of 30 participants. He explained to the participants that the purpose of the workshop was to pick out the plan’s shortcomings and determine ways to fix them ” not to dwell on the process.

“There are going to be things in the draft report you don’t agree with, that the public doesn’t agree with,” Race said. “These are not policies ” this is just a draft guide and a summary of work that you’ve done so far.”

Nason said she was concerned most with the draft plan’s “treating water quality like a separate threshold (goal) of the TRPA.”

The current ordinances of the bistate planning agency address water quality thresholds separately from other environmental goals, which Nason said may not be the best way to look at creating a cleaner, healthier lake.

“We see clarity as inextricably connected. Issues like soil conservation, forest management, urbanization ” all of these impact water quality.”

The draft plan calls for:

– Restoration of watersheds;

– Restoration of forest plants and soils;

– Restoration of wildlife and fish habitat;

– Development of transportation solutions that reduce traffic and improve water quality.

“People have to keep in mind that specific goals and policies come next,” Singlaub said. “This is a draft plan and we are still engaged in the process.”

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