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U.S. EPA gives $1.1 million to help restore Lake Tahoe

Release Date: 8/5/2004
Contact Information: EPA - Laura Gentile, 415/947-4227 ( ), cell 415/760-9161; State of California - Robert Dodds, 530/542-5400; State of Nevada - Tom Porta, 775/687-9443

SAN FRANCISCO -- Last month the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded more than $1 million to the state of California to help protect and restore Lake Tahoe.

The Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board will use the money to evaluate new approaches and technologies to control pollution in the Lake Tahoe area.

Wayne Nastri, administrator of the EPA's Pacific Southwest region, announced the grant today at the Lake Tahoe Summit, an annual event held in Incline Village, Nev. where federal, tribal, state and local officials highlight efforts to protect the sensitive environment in the Tahoe area.

"We are extremely fortunate to have one of the world's most famous lakes right in our own backyard," said Nastri. "The federal government remains committed to working with our state partners to provide the technical expertise, monitoring and research that are crucial to protecting this precious natural treasure."

Lake Tahoe, which is more than one quarter of a mile deep, has been degraded by environmental problems that include air pollution, contaminated storm water runoff and erosion.

The lake is losing about one foot per year in water clarity because of airborne and runoff pollution from a variety of sources. The money will be used to fund projects aimed at improving Tahoe water quality, including a study to determine how air pollution is affecting the clarity of the lake.

The regional board, located in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., will work with the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection on the project.

The EPA, regional board, and NDEP have been working to address the environmental concerns in the Tahoe area by monitoring water quality, treating polluted runoff and restoring local streams that have been degraded by too much sediment.

The agencies are also working together to develop a water quality plan for the lake, known as a total maximum daily load, or "TMDL". The plan will identify the sources of pollution and will specify reductions in sediment and nutrients that are necessary to restore the lake's clarity.

"This grant fills a significant need for the regional board, NDEP and our partners in our efforts to restore Lake Tahoe's clarity," said Harold Singer, executive officer of the regional board. "We expect this funding will help us identify how the Tahoe stakeholders can achieve the greatest environmental benefits while minimizing the expenditure of private and public dollars."

"These funds will take California and Nevada a long way in our ongoing efforts toward restoring the clarity of Lake Tahoe, the extraordinary resource that we share," said Jolaine Johnson, acting administrator for the NDEP. "We greatly appreciate the support of the EPA and we look forward to our continued work with the regional board to develop and implement effective measures to ensure the long term protection of the lake."

The EPA has provided more than $22 million since 1997 to promote water quality efforts in and around the lake, and has dedicated a full-time staff person to work with other officials in the area on lake issues.

Last month the EPA awarded $15 million to Lake Tahoe and 13 other watersheds nationwide, covering 17 states and more than 20,000 square miles of rivers, lakes and streams. More than 100 applicants competed for the funding. The EPA selected projects that included a community-based approach, clear goals and objectives, water quality monitoring and public education.

Information about these projects and the EPA's watershed grant program is available at: <>