Fine sediments carried in stormwater are the number one threat to Lake Tahoe's water clarity.
Unchecked twentieth-century development paved over much of Tahoe’s marshes and wetlands, which had acted as natural pollution filters for waters flowing to the Lake.
Now, when rain hits our roads and parking lots, it washes off fine sediment – the number one threat to Lake clarity – and other pollutants into storm drains that lead to Big Blue.
Pipe Keepers is our citizen science program to address stormwater runoff into Lake Tahoe. League experts train volunteers to assess and monitor stormwater infrastructure, collect water samples for analysis, and identify polluting pipes.
The League uses that data to collaborate with our agency partners to stop the pollution before it enters the Lake.
What is fine sediment and why is it a problem?
Fine sediment particles are smaller than the width of a human hair and are so light that they can remain suspended in Lake Tahoe (i.e., not sink) for years, even decades, degrading its deep water clarity. Sources of fine sediment include road sands that are applied to our streets in the winter; dirt and pollutants from streets, parking lots and neighborhoods; and even erosion of roads and other surfaces. All this material washes into storm drains and pollutes the Lake.
Become a Pipe Keeper today
Get started - Blue Tier
Don’t have a lot of time to volunteer? You can still help by reporting infrastructure issues (damage, blockage, illicit discharge, etc.) that you see while out and about at the Lake. Report issues through the Pipe Keeper survey in the free Citizen Science Tahoe web app. Also, keep an eye on our events calendar for Runoff Restoration work days in the summer and fall!
Go further - Bluer Tier
Want to get more involved? In addition to using the Citizen Science Tahoe web app, Bluer Tier volunteers are invited to participate in stormwater sampling events and special partnership opportunities. To get started, read through our online training guide and complete this waiver.
Pipe Keepers stormwater infrastructure monitoring
Explore the map of adopted pipes to see pictures of the sites, survey history, and interesting facts.