BMP Info

BMP Info

BMP Information

Best Management Practices (BMPs) are:

“methods, measures, or practices selected by an agency to meet its nonpoint source control needs. BMPs include but are not limited to structural and nonstructural controls and operation and maintenance procedures. BMPs can be applied before, during and after pollution producing activities to reduce or eliminate the introduction of pollutants into receiving waters”

Lake Tahoe is one of the three clearest lakes of its size in the world. The purity of Lake Tahoe and its tributary streams are what help make Tahoe Basin so unique. The Lake’s unusual water quality contributes to the scenic beauty of the Region, yet it depends today upon a fragile balance among soils, vegetation and man.

The clarity of Lake Tahoe is declining at an alarming rate of over one foot each year, largely due to soil erosion and surface runoff associated with urban development in the Tahoe Basin. At the current rate of decline, it is estimated that Lake Tahoe will lose its blue brilliance in just 10 years.

When a watershed is disturbed and covered with impervious surfaces such as roads, driveways and rooftops, the rain and snowmelt flush sediment and nutrients quickly into the nearest stream or storm drainage system, ultimately ending up in Lake Tahoe.

Once in Lake Tahoe, the sediment causes the water to appear muddy and the nutrients feed algae growth. In order to mitigate water quality impacts associated with developed areas, Best Management Practices (BMPs) are utilized. BMPs are proven methods that prevent sediment and nutrients from entering surface waters.

Best Management Practices vary from site-to-site, and include temporary best management practices and permanent best management practices. Temporary BMPs are utilized to keep sediment on-site when an area is disturbed by construction. Permanent BMPs are utilized to minimize erosion on residential, commercial, and public service properties when they aren’t disturbed by active construction.

The location of your home determines when your property needs the BMPs implemented —there are three different priority watersheds around the lake. Subsequent target dates for full implementation of BMPs are October 15, 2006 for property owners in Priority Two watersheds, and October 15, 2008 for property owners in Priority Three watersheds. Priority One wathersheds were to install BMPs no later than October 15, 2000.

Completion of the BMP process can be achieved by following three easy steps:

  • Request a free BMP site evaluation by contacting either the Conservation Districts or TRPA.
    • After an evaluation is completed on your property, you can complete the conservation measures yourself or contact a local contractor to perform the work.
    • Soil conditions vary from property to property, so it’s important to have an erosion control specialist perform the evaluation, which are conducted year round, even in the snow.
  • Have property owners implement the prescribed BMPs identified on the completed site evaluation form.
  • Call TRPA at (775) 588-4547 ext. 202 to request a final evaluation of your property and to receive a “Certificate of Completion.”

Homeowners can help save Lake Tahoe with simple improvements on their properties, such as:

  • Paving dirt driveways.
  • Stabilizing steep slopes and loose soils.
  • Mulching bare soil.
  • Planting trees or native plants.
  • Installing gravel, rocks or other materials under the drip line of a home, allowing the water to be filtered and preventing it from running off the property and flowing to the lake.
  • Adding a slotted drain on paved driveways to capture runoff and carry it to a gravel filled pit, where it is collected and filtered.
  • Also see, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s BMP website
Fertilizer use may impact water quality by adding nutrients to surface waters. Below are tips for the wise use of fertilizers to protect water quality.
  • Do not use fertilizers near stream zones, shorelines or on water saturated soils.
  • Do not over fertilize – apply fertilizers once in the spring and early fall.
  • Use only the nutrients necessary – get a soil text from the UNR Cooperative Extension or any certified testing laboratory.
  • Do not over water – nutrients are lost by runoff and leaching.
  • Landscape with native plants – they require little to no irrigation or fertilizers once established.
  • Consider using low-phosphorous fertilizer.

What about Paving Your Driveway?

If your home is a full-time residence, it’s required that you pave the driveway to help protect the lake.

For more information and a free BMP evaluation, contact one of the agencies listing below:

For Residential Properties in CALIFORNIA:

Tahoe Resource Conservation District
Backyard Conservation Program
870 Emerald Bay Road, Suite 108
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150
Phone: (530) 543-1501, ext. 113
Fax: (530) 543-1660

For Commercial & Multi-Family Properties in Nevada and California:

Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA)
Erosion Control Team
P.O. Box 5310
Stateline, NV 89449-5310
Phone: (775) 588-4547 ext. 202
Fax: (775) 588-4527

Education/Outreach Training

UNR Cooperative Extension
P.O. Box 8208, 865 Tahoe Blvd., Suite 110
Incline Village, NV 89452-8202
Phone: (775) 832-4150 ext. 102
Fax: (775) 832-4139