As a heavy hitter to Lake Tahoe's clarity, the area surrounding Bijou Creek may get an overhaul in coming years as the city of South Lake Tahoe undertakes an extensive erosion control project in the region.
Proposals, now in preliminary stages, include such options as moving some or all of Bijou Golf Course, the golf course clubhouse and the disc golf course. The most ambitious proposal calls for city acquisition of several properties, including Heidi's Pancake House.
The Bijou Creek area is, for its size, among the largest contributors of clarity-reducing sediment and nutrients to Lake Tahoe, according to Rita Whitney, threshold monitoring manager for the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.
Currently, water draining from the 1,386-acre area runs untreated into the lake through three undersized and dilapidated pipes crossing under Lake Tahoe Boulevard.
Under a concept dubbed the Bijou Area Erosion Control Project, three "themes" have been developed by city engineers to treat runoff from areas around Bijou Meadow before it reaches Lake Tahoe.
Each of the themes includes a different method for treating runoff from the Longs Drugs-anchored Bijou Center, as well as plans to collect, pretreat and direct runoff from surrounding neighborhoods into the meadow.
Under the most extensive theme, five properties would be purchased by the city, including Heidi's Pancake House and Ski Run Liquors, to make way for a restoration of Bijou Creek. Two easements also would need to be purchased under the scenario, which includes moving Bijou Golf Course and the Bijou Community Park disc golf course to the southern end of Bijou Meadow.
While the city considers the theme the most environmentally beneficial of the three, the cost of such a project could make it unlikely to become a reality, according to Sarah Hussong Johnson, an associate civil engineer with the city.
A $5 million California Department of Water Resources grant would be necessary to acquire the properties. Designers expect to hear about those funds by the end of February.
"If this funding is not received, the city does not anticipate this as being a viable option," Johnson wrote in a memo to City Manager David Jinkens in November.
Johnson said Friday that the acquisition only could occur through the willing participation of current owners of the properties in question. The city also would be required to pay fair market for the properties, according to Johnson.
Current concepts still are in a "big picture" phase, according to engineering manager Stan Hill, and more specific plans are anticipated. City engineers expect the final plan to include a combination of features from each of the three themes.
A review committee is expected to examine the themes at the end of February, and a draft preferred alternative is anticipated for public comment near the end of March.
More information on the project can be found at www.cityofslt.us/publicworks/bijou.html.