Pipe Keepers

Pipe Keeper Logo

Pipe Keepers is a community-based volunteer monitoring program that examines stormwater entering Lake Tahoe and its tributaries.

Created in response to residents’ concerns about neighborhood pipes and their impact on Lake Tahoe, Pipe Keepers began in 2012 with local volunteers sampling pipes throughout the Tahoe Basin. To date we have collected over 1400 water samples from 23 pipes around Lake Tahoe.

Become a Pipe Keeper!

As a Pipe Keeper, you will join a dedicated group of volunteers who monitor stormwater dumping into Lake Tahoe from pipes all around the Lake. The water samples and observations that you collect during storms are used to help us determine the biggest sources of pollutants flowing into Lake Tahoe and work towards finding solutions.

How does being a Pipe Keeper help us protect Lake Tahoe?

Rain storms and snowmelt flush fine sediment, chemicals, and nutrients off roads, driveways, and parking lots into Lake Tahoe where they reduce Lake clarity, contribute to algal growth, and degrade our otherwise pristine Lake.

As a Pipe Keeper you can help us identify the sources of pollutants by collecting water samples for us to analyze in our lab. League staff test your water samples for turbidity, a measurement of how cloudy the water is due to fine sediments and other pollutants in the water. If we find a particularly dirty sample we can trace the sample back to the pipe, and then back to storm drains, which can tell us whether the pollution is coming from a road, a local shopping center, or other source.

What does it mean to be a Pipe Keeper?

In the Pipe Keepers program we have three different ways you can help us protect Lake Tahoe’s crystal blue waters:

  1. Pipe Keeper – Collect water samples at a specific pipe each time it rains or whenever you observe snowmelt. We provide you with sampling equipment and train you on how to collect samples in the field. You keep an eye on the weather – and the pipe – and take as many samples as possible!

  2. Pipe Assistant – Assist a Pipe Keeper in the field as needed or be on call for when the Pipe Keeper can’t make it to a designated pipe. You’ll receive the same level of training, but there won’t be quite as many hours in the field.

  3. Watershed Watcher – Monitor storm drains and pipes in your neighborhood, note your observations, and take lots of pictures of trash, debris, oil, etc. Trace the path of storm drains to pipes if possible and report all your observations to us!

To sign up to be a Pipe Keeper, Pipe Assistant, or Watershed Watcher, please fill out the online volunteer registration form or contact protect@keeptahoeblue.org

Your Pipe Keeper training will start with a group classroom session where you will learn more about our program, the network of storm drains and pipes around Lake Tahoe, and their impacts to our lake, and have a chance to meet other community members concerned about stormwater. Once completed we will set you up on a pipe, schedule a private training at your new pipe, and get you geared up with all the equipment you will need

Pipe Keepers
Program Stats

# of Watershed Watchers trained 59 29
# of Pipe Keepers trained 49 19
# of active Pipe Keepers 40 21
# of pipes monitored 21 13
# of samples analyzed 1420 512

Explore our pipes

Explore our interactive map of pipes around the Lake, or follow the links below for detailed accounts of each of our monitored pipes to date.
Columbine Trail
El Dorado East
El Dorado West
Fremont Avenue
Golden Bear Trail
Kaspian Point
Lake Forest Road
Lakeshore Boulevard
Lardin Way
Meeks Bay
Pasadena Avenue
Pine Street
Regan Beach
Ski Run

Timber Cove
Upper Truckee River and Highway 50
Venice Drive
Village Boulevard


Learn more

  • Stormwater Read more about stormwater, fine sediment, and the watersheds around Lake Tahoe.
  • Click here to see other League events.

Many thanks to our partners!

We’d like to thank
Friends of the West Shore, who sponsored four pipes during our pilot year (2012), as well as our many volunteers to date, and our other partner organizations here in Tahoe:

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