The existing Clean Water Act requires the Lake Tahoe region to have a water quality plan – and that plan says only 33 percent of a property’s land can be developed.
Jeff Cowen of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency says that has hindered efforts to redevelop existing properties to better handle storm water dirtying the lake.
“These are properties that have been locked in place for generations by rules on land coverage and we think we will get a significant amount of environmental improvement and water quality restoration by having more properties come in and do their best quality management practices,” says Cowen.
The TRPA, California and Nevada requested the EPA exemptions for decks, sheds and driveways, allowing property owners to expand if they get an approved storm water plan.
Cowen says this will help improve Lake Tahoe’s water quality by incentivizing property owners to better manage their storm water.
“What we’re looking to do is to ramp up the number of properties that come in for a permit by encouraging small additions and minor remodels,” explains Cowen.
In order to qualify for the exemptions, property owners will first have to apply for storm-water management permits before they can remodel.
Cowen expects that building activity will pick up next year as a result.