Best Management Practices, commonly known as BMPs, are a diverse set of methods required by Tahoe Regional Planning Agency to prevent sediments and pollutants from entering ground and surface water in the Lake Tahoe Basin.
For many property owners, this sounds scary – the TRPA handbook on BMPs is 736 pages long! Thankfully, here in the Tahoe Keys, BMPs are pretty simple. Your property may already be compliant, just waiting for a certificate.
First off, many issues, like steep slopes for example, don’t apply in the Tahoe Keys. Additionally, water is slow to infiltrate into the soil in the Tahoe Keys, and the water table is relatively high. These factors limit the range and scope of BMPs that apply to Tahoe Keys properties.
The Tahoe Keys are considered a high priority for BMPs by TRPA, Tahoe Resource Conservation District and the City of South Lake Tahoe. Most properties are in close proximity to water and the lack of BMPs could degrade water quality and increase aquatic invasive plants in the Tahoe Keys Lagoons.
Here’s where you come in.
TRPA recommends using Source Control BMPs for single-family properties. The purpose of Source Control BMPs is to prevent soil erosion. That boils down to:
1) Have a paved driveway
2) Have some type of soil protection along that driveway and underneath structure driplines:
- Gravel armor or drain rock 3 inches deep – 18 inches wide for 1 story, 24 inches wide for 2 stories, 30 inches wide for 3 stories. This should be contained by a non-flammable border. Drain rock is washed rock 0.75 to 1.5 inches in diameter
- Install turf or non-woody irrigated plants – consider native plants for reduced watering and fertilizer needs
- Don’t use mulch within a 5-foot zone around structures to minimize fire hazard
3) Maintain a 5-foot defensible space zone around all structures
That’s it! Many single family properties in the Tahoe Keys already meet these requirements, yet don’t have a BMP Source Control Certificate – so getting a certificate could be as simple as making a phone call and getting an inspection. Find out more at www.tahoebmp.org.
But if your property already meets these requirements, why bother with getting the certificate?
- It’s good for the environment. We’re all in the fight to improve water clarity and reduce aquatic invasive plants in the Keys together. It benefits us all to win this fight for recreation, property value, etc.
- Property value: The steps required of a BMP certificate generally enhance property value.
- Permitting for a remodel or addition: BMPs are required to acquire permits with the City of South Lake Tahoe to do a remodel or addition to your home (even decks).
- Ease of selling your property: While you aren’t required to have a BMP certificate to sell your property, you must disclose this to potential buyers, adding another hurdle to selling your home.
- Fines: While TRPA typically focuses on commercial properties and lakefront properties for not having a BMP certificate rather than single family properties, it can fine up to $5,000 a day if the situation warrants it.
So what do you do?
First, call the TRPA (775-589-5202) for an inspection. If you pass, you get your certificate! If not, TRPA staff person will recommend steps to make your property compliant, after which you can get another inspection for certification. TRPA staff don't need you to be at home; they just need access to the outside of your property. Both inspection and certification are currently free for single-family homeowners.
That’s all it takes! Please help the lake, help the environment, help the Tahoe Keys and help your property by taking these simple steps.