Pipe Keepers

Pipe Keepers

Protect Lake Tahoe from stormwater pollution. Join Pipe Keepers.

Pipe Keepers is the League’s citizen science program to address stormwater runoff into Lake Tahoe. Unchecked twentieth-century development paved over much of Tahoe’s marshes and wetlands, which had acted as natural pollution filters. 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 the Lake.

League experts train community members to assess and monitor the condition of stormwater infrastructure and collect stormwater samples for turbidity analysis during the first big storm of the year and large snowmelt events. Volunteer efforts help League staff locate and address pipes that are dumping high levels of sediment into Lake Tahoe. League staff then collaborate with agency partners to find solutions for the most-polluting pipes, so we can stop the pollution before it enters the Lake.


Become a Pipe Keeper today! Choose your level of involvement:

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 on the Pipe Keeper survey in the free Citizen Science Tahoe Web App: citizensciencetahoe.app. Also keep an eye on our events calendar for Runoff Restoration work days in the summer and fall!

BLUER TIER: Want to get more involved? In addition to reporting infrastructure issues on the Citizen Science Tahoe Web App, Bluer Tier volunteers will be invited to participate in our stormwater sampling events and special partnership opportunities. To become a Bluer Tier Pipe Keeper, read through the online training guide and complete this online volunteer liability waiver.

What is fine sediment and why is it a problem?

Fine sediment particles are smaller than the width of a human hair and can remain suspended in Lake Tahoe for years, even decades, degrading its deepwater clarity. Sources of fine sediment include road traction abrasives (road sands) that are applied to our streets and highways in the winter; dirt and pollutants from streets, parking lots and neighborhoods; and even degradation of roads and other surfaces. All this material washes into storm drains during rain storms and snowmelt and pollutes the Lake.



Pipe Keepers
Program Stats

 Total (2012-2021)2021
Stormwater samples analyzed (does not include Caldor Program) 2,459 29
Acres of stormwater infrastructure restored 5.94 3
Active Bluer Tier volunteers - 29


Explore our pipes

Learn more about stormwater


Citizen Science & the Caldor Fire

A citizen scientist samples water qualityWater quality monitoring is crucial to understanding the delayed aftereffects of wildfire on Lake Tahoe.

Through May 2022, our citizen scientist volunteers are collecting important data from the waterways that drain the areas burned during the Caldor Fire. Learn more and get involved!

A special thank you to Pipe Keepers founding partner, Friends of the West Shore, who provided base funding and technical assistance in the early years of the program.

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