SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. - Installation of a $3.2 million stormwater treatment system underneath the parking lot of Heavenly Mountain Resort's California Base Lodge is expected to be completed this week.
The removal of a series of manhole covers in the western corner of the parking lot Monday revealed several large underground tanks, or "vaults," each containing filters looking somewhat like oversized versions of water filters used in homes.
"We're excited," said Andrew Strain, Heavenly's vice president of planning and governmental affairs. "This is a great step in the right direction."
Runoff from the resort's 14.7-acre California Base Lodge parking lot will flow through the series of six vaults containing a total of 482 filters, said Michelle Gamble, a senior engineer with Carson City-based Resource Concepts Inc., the engineering firm behind the project.
The filters contain a combination of zeolite, perlite and granular activated carbon and are designed to remove nitrogen, phosphorus, oil, grease, sediment and other pollutants from stormwater through chemical processes before it is discharged into Bijou Creek.
Although the filters are designed to meet Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board standards, it still is unknown just how effective the filters will be in removing pollutants before they reach Lake Tahoe.
The discharge from the treatment system will be monitored "at least weekly" during spring runoff, Gamble said, as well as after significant storm events, to determine the system's effectiveness.
"This is the best technology we're aware of on the market today," Strain said.
Regular maintenance on the filters will be required. Depending on the condition of the filters, they would need to be changed from one to seven years, Gamble said.
Heavenly officials are working with the city of South Lake Tahoe on the third and final phase of stormwater treatment projects under or near the California Base Lodge parking lot.
A filter vault off Wildwood Avenue in the design phase is expected to be installed by this fall, Strain said.
Heavenly officials hope to submit plans for the vault to the city, TRPA and the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board sometime this summer.