The Bijou Area Erosion Control Project in the City of South Lake Tahoe is in full swing and is expected to be completed later this fall. When finished, the project will convey Bijou Creek to Lake Tahoe while separately treating stormwater runoff from 17 ha (42 ac) within the Bijou Commercial Core area. Runoff will be stored in underground tanks where sediment will settle out before the water is conveyed to infiltration basins on U.S. Forest Service property. The project is expected to prevent 9525 kg (21,000 lbs) of fine sediment particles from reaching Lake Tahoe each year. It will also help the City of South Lake Tahoe meet a third of its total maximum daily load pollutant reduction requirements over a five-year period.
The project is made possible by competitive grants and funding agreements with the State Water Resources Control Board, Caltrans, the U.S. Forest Service, the California Tahoe Conservancy, South Tahoe Public Utility District, and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. However, the City of South Lake Tahoe also created a community facilities district to pay for a portion of the $15 million project and additional stormwater requirements.
The Bijou Area Erosion Control Project’s service area includes some 43 properties, mostly commercial, that could participate in the community facilities district. If all participated, they could cover half of the project’s estimated annual maintenance costs. Through voluntary participation, property owners get a best management practice (BMP) certificate and pay $1 per square meter ($0.10 per square foot) of impervious surface per year, according to news sources. This is a more cost effective way to meet the requirements of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s BMP program. Costs to install the practices on their own average from $14 to $32 per square meter ($1.27 to $3 per square foot) of impervious surface not including lost land area as well as operational and maintenance costs.