Evaluation and Management of Non-Point Source Pollutants in the Lake Tahoe Watershed

by G. Fred Lee, (M.ASCE), G. Fred Lee & Associates, El Macero, United States,
Anne Jones-Lee, (M.ASCE), G. Fred Lee & Associates, El Macero, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Critical Issues in Water and Wastewater Treatment


Lake Tahoe, California-Nevada, one of the most oligotrophic lakes in the world, is experiencing decreased water clarity and increased periphyton growth, and water supplies drawing from the lake are experiencing increased algal-related tastes and odors. The growth of algae in Lake Tahoe is primarily limited by the nitrogen (nitrate and ammonia) loads to the lake, which have been increasing over the years. The nitrogen that is causing the increased fertilization of the lake is primarily derived from atmospheric sources through precipitation onto the lake's surface. A potentially highly significant source of atmospheric nitrogen in the Lake Tahoe Basin is automobile, bus, and truck engine exhaust discharge of NOx. The fertilization of lawns and other shrubbery, including golf courses, within the Lake Tahoe Basin is also leading to significant growths of attached algae in the nearshore waters of the lake. The fertilizers are transported via groundwater to the nearshore areas of the lake. In order to prevent further deterioration of Lake Tahoe's eutrophication-related water quality, there is immediate need to control atmospheric input of nitrate and ammonia to the lake's surface, and to control use of fertilizers on lawns, shrubbery, and golf courses in the watershed. The states of California and Nevada, and the Tahoe Regional Planning Authority need to focus considerable attention on the determination of whether restricting NOx emissions from vehicular traffic within the basin would have a significant beneficial impact on Lake Tahoe's water clarity.

Subject Headings: Lakes | Water quality | Watersheds | Water pollution | Nutrient pollution | Pollutants | Nitrogen | Water supply | United States | California | Nevada

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