Best Management Practices (BMPs) are methods to help developed properties function more like natural, undisturbed forest and meadowland. Water that is conveyed to a lake by an undisturbed watershed is usually quite pure, because the watershed’s soils and plants act as a natural water purification system. BMPs help developed properties mimic natural conditions, preventing sediment and nutrients from entering our surface waters and filtering runoff water through the soil.
By implementing BMPs, property owners can help slow the loss of lake clarity. BMPs for residential properties usually fall into the following categories: vegetating and mulching bare, disturbed soils; infiltrating stormwater runoff from impervious surfaces; paving dirt driveways and roads; and stabilizing or retaining steep slopes and loose soils.Mulching and vegetating soils helps them to absorb rain and snowmelt like a sponge, mimicking natural conditions. TRPA regulations require that native and/or adaptive vegetation is planted, reducing the amount of irrigation and fertilization needed, thereby reducing nutrient loading and runoff even further. Runoff from impervious surfaces is stored and infiltrated in specially designed systems, which allows the stormwater to filter through the soil instead of letting it collect and run off the property.
Click here to view a brochure on the natural fit of BMPs and Defensible Space. Click here for assistance with BMPs on the California side of Lake Tahoe. For assistance with BMPs in Nevada, click here.
The University of Nevada Cooperatvie Extension has compiled the Home Landscaping Guide for the Tahoe Basin specifically to help homeowners complete BMPs and landscape their property in the most environmentally sensitive way.
Paved driveways are a good BMP because dirt driveways become compacted over time, allowing stormwater to flush dirt off of them into surface waters. Also, vehicle tires pick up sediment from dirt driveways and track it on to street surfaces, where it flushes into storm drains and ultimately Lake Tahoe during the next rainstorm.
Unstable slopes and loose soils can be stabilized in several ways depending on the steepness of the slope, including attractive methods that utilize native vegetation and rock. Steeper slopes may require wood or rock retaining walls, terraces, or willow wattles.