For Immediate Release
November 8, 2000


Contact: Judith Unsicker
(530) 542-5462


Lahontan Water Board Will Consider Pollution Limits For Indian Creek Reservoir


South Lake Tahoe, Calif.- The State agency responsible for regulating water quality in the eastern Sierra is seeking public input on proposed controls to reduce phosphorus levels in Indian Creek Reservoir in Alpine County.

The Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, part of the California Environmental Protection Agency, says that Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) are control regulation documents required by federal law for all surface water bodies that are not meeting California water quality standards and which are not expected to meet state standards after control of "point sources" of pollution such as industrial or municipal discharges.

Federal regulations require that TMDLs include an assessment of the current situation and reasonable assurance that state standards will be attained.

The mandatory public comment period for the draft TMDL and corresponding environmental documents lasts 45 days and began November 7. The Regional Board will accept written comments on the draft documents, or verbal comments at its public meeting January 11-12, 2001 in South Lake Tahoe. The Regional Board will consider approving the TMDLs following the hearing.

Indian Creek Reservoir, popular for its fishing, is listed under the federal Clean Water Act as being impaired by eutrophication. This is the process through which a water body becomes enriched with too many dissolved nutrients, such as phosphorus, which stimulates the unwanted growth of large amounts of algae. The large algae blooms rob the water of dissolved oxygen which fish need.

Until 1989 the reservoir was used to store treated sewage exported from the Lake Tahoe Basin. According to staff of the Regional Board, the reservoir continues to show symptoms of eutrophication despite fresh water input since 1989. A significant amount of fish died at the reservoir last year; the cause is still unknown.

Control of phosphorus is considered essential for control of eutrophication. The draft TMDL estimates phosphorus discharges from external sources including tributary inflow, surface runoff and precipitation, and from internal sources including reservoir sediment. The TMDL implementation plan establishes a process for selection and implementation of measures to reduce phosphorus discharges from both external and internal sources.

To receive copies of the proposed TMDL and environmental document, or to obtain more information, contact Judith Unsicker at (530) 542-5462. The TMDL and environmental document are also available on the Internet at or by visiting your local county library.