For Immediate Release
January 14, 2000


Contact: Lauri Kemper
(530) 542-5410


Regional Water Board Celebrates 50 Years


SOUTH LAKE TAHOE – Water. It’s California’s most precious natural resource. We call it "liquid gold."

While many Sierra Nevada residents may not be familiar with it, there is a state agency whose primary mandate is to protect the waters of this region of the state. It is the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board and this small, but powerful State Board celebrates its 50th anniversary this month.

It’s been 50 years of progress for both this agency and the environment. From a staff that numbered three in 1950 to its present staff of 63 engineers, scientists, geologists, and vital support personnel, the Regional Board performs the challenging task of balancing the needs of the people, agriculture, and industry with those of the environment. For example, the Regional Board was responsible for developing a comprehensive plan to address the declining water clarity in Lake Tahoe and for implementing many of the controls on existing and future development in the Lake Tahoe Basin. The Regional Board was also responsible for upgrades of sewage treatment plants or the sewering of over 35 communities at a time when these communities were under significant development pressure, thus eliminating the possibility of significant groundwater contamination from additional development relying on individual septic systems.

As part of the California Environmental Protection Agency, the Lahontan Regional Board, along with the eight other Regional Boards located throughout the state, does most of the front line regulatory work based on policies set by the State Water Resources Control Board and laws enacted by the Legislature. This work includes monitoring surface and groundwater, making sure polluted waters get cleaned up, and taking action against those who violate state or federal clean water laws.

"I join with Governor Davis in congratulating the Regional Water Boards on their 50th anniversary," said Winston Hickox, Secretary of Cal/EPA. "These hard working men and women are our first line of defense in protecting the quality of California’s inland and coastal waters. I appreciate their dedication and commitment to teamwork with the other boards and departments of Cal/EPA in safeguarding our environment."

Winston Hickox, Secretary of Cal/EPA

"I’m very proud of the work our Regional Board and staff have done over the last 50 years," says Eric Sandel, Chairman of the Lahontan Regional Board. "We’ve come a long way from the early days where the focus was almost entirely on industrial end-of-the-pipe discharges. Our total watershed management approach now sets the standard for others to follow."

Eric Sandel, Chairman of the Lahontan Regional Board