Water clarity of Lake Tahoe to improve under new TMDL

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SAN FRANCISCO, CA, Aug. 16, 2011 -- State and federal officials have inked a new Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for Lake Tahoe that provides a roadmap for restoring the lake's clarity.

The agreement, signed by California Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr., Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval and U.S. EPA Regional Administrator Jared Blumenfeld, charts a course for returning the lake to almost 100 feet of clarity within 65 years.

The water clarity of Lake Tahoe declined from a visibility level of 105 feet in 1967 to an all time low of 64 feet in 1997. Ten years of scientific study ascertained that fine particulate matter is the prime factor in diminished clarity at Lake Tahoe.

Scientific analysis demonstrates that restoring lake clarity is possible if pollutant load reductions can be achieved in each of the four primary sources of these pollutants: urban stormwater runoff, forest runoff, stream channel erosion and atmospheric deposition.

The TMDL outlines measures to reduce each of these sources, with a focus on the urban stormwater runoff source, as it is both the greatest source and the best opportunity to control the pollutants. The TMDL calls for advanced and innovative controls to achieve the needed pollution reductions.

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