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Winter Rains Force Change In Lake Tahoe Area Precipitation Monitoring

Ky Plaskon / Capital Public Radio

Natural Resources Conservation Service Environmental Technician Scott Dietrich adjusts an automatic storm water measuring station for the expected rain.

Ky Plaskon / Capital Public Radio

More than three inches of rain is expected to fall in the Lake Tahoe area by Friday.

More frequent winter rains like this are forcing the Natural Resources Conservation Service to adjust storm water monitoring equipment, and take a close look at catch basins designed to prevent pollution from entering the lake. Capital Public Radio’s Ky Plaskon reports.

Natural Resources Conservation Service Environmental Technician Scott Dietrich is reprogramming an automatic storm water measuring station for the expected rain.

“Yeah, yeah. This is huge!," Dietrich says.

Normally the station wouldn’t need to monitor as much water this time of year because in winter precipitation falls a snow, which melts slowly. But Dietrich says the pulses of rain expected this weekend could overwhelm the station and the catch basins that are designed to stop pollution before it gets to the lake.

“I think definitely that’s something that the folks who basically manage storm water around the lake are thinking of. And that is where a lot of the results that we get here are going to kind of tell us if we need to size up those basins.”

Deitrich says because of the recent trend of winter rainstorms, more water is being diverted to wetlands in South Lake and Tahoe City. But on the east side of the lake there isn’t room for wetlands because of the steep terrain and development.