STATELINE - Lake Tahoe officials have wanted a system in place to control and treat the stormwater runoff from the Stateline casino core.
"This is one of the most significant stormwater treatment projects to occur in the Lake Tahoe Basin in the last 10 years. It may be the most significant ever," said Blaise D'Angelo of JWA Consulting Engineers, the agency that designed the system. "It treats a tremendous amount of runoff for a very large area of hard coverage. I expect it to have a significant impact on the quality of stormwater running from the casino core."
Construction has been under way most of the summer, and officials said they plan to have a majority of the system operating soon. Only a small portion of the project will be delayed until next season.
Lake Tahoe's clarity has declined at a rate of more than 1 foot a year for the last 30 years, and the decline is largely attributable to urban stormwater runoff. A natural ecosystem absent urbanization is able to handle snow and rainfall. The forest floor naturally filters water, so it doesn't carry sediment particles to the lake. However, impervious coverage - roads, buildings and other development - doesn't allow that filtration to occur.
The casino core, an area dense with parking lots and large buildings, is about 72 percent impervious coverage.
Some of Stateline's casinos already had stormwater treatment systems on their properties. What workers have been doing is improving those and tying them together.
After its initial treatment on the various properties, stormwater will then be routed to a common facility behind the Horizon Casino Resort. There the water will go through eight vaults that will remove trash, road oils and fine sediment particles.
White Rock Construction out of Carson Valley last week installed the vaults in a several hundred-foot-long trench behind the casino.
After being treated in the vaults, a 650-foot-long, 48-inch pipe will carry the water to Edgewood Golf Course, where it will move through a series of treatment ponds before entering Lake Tahoe.
Lake Parkway is scheduled to be closed from Oct. 11 through 14 as the pipe is installed under the road.
The only work left to be completed next year will be the installation of some treatment systems on Lake Parkway and U.S. Highway 50.
Planning of the regional drainage system for the casino core began in 1988. The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency adopted the Stateline Community Plan in 1993, which required the implementation of the treatment system. Bill's Lake Tahoe Casino, Caesars Tahoe, Harrah's Lake Tahoe, Harveys Resort & Casino, Horizon Casino Resort, Douglas County and the Nevada Department of Transportation signed an agreement to complete the project in early 1997.
Costs for the project, including those for treatment facilities previously built on some of the properties, are likely around $20 million.