Friends of Lake Tahoe:



Friends of Lake Tahoe was created to protect the Lake Tahoe region and halt the construction of a disastrous biomass power plant in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

Proposed jointly by Placer County and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA), we believed that its pollution, especially given the nature of the geography of the Basin, would be an environmental disaster, public danger, and a wholly unnecessary project to fight a problem that didn’t exist. It was to be located in the North Shore, less than a mile from the lake and a stone’s throw from an elementary school.

Vigorously arguing our case throughout the region and gaining followers daily, in July of 2011, the Executive Director of the TRPA, Joanne Marchetta, bravely came to agree with us and our science and cancelled her agency’s support of the project thereby killing it.

To learn more about what we did to promote this objective, please
Visit The Original Website "
to be taken to our website as it existed at that time. Our website became a major vehicle for arguing our case and mobilizing political action and fundraising.

SINCE THAT TIME, Friends of Lake Tahoe has been, is, and shall continue to be an issue advocacy organization that is dedicated to preserving, protecting, and promoting the overall social welfare of the community and environment of the Lake Tahoe region. It strives to be the voice of both local residents and particularly non-resident property owners. It primarily focuses on education and nonpartisan civic engagement projects. Among those include the following:

  1. Conservation and Community Communications: In an effort to promote both policy unity and the avoidance of duplication of tasks, the CEOs of each of the leading non-profit environmental organizations in the region (Tahoe Area Sierra Club, Friends of Lake Tahoe, the League to Save Lake Tahoe, Friends of the West Shore, North Tahoe Citizen Action Alliance, and the North Tahoe Preservation Alliance) are in constant communications with each other. Each organization has slightly different areas of emphasis and because the CEO of Friends of Lake Tahoe is a retired political science college professor with years of political campaign experience, this organization contributes greatly to collective political strategy and tactics formulation.
  2. Community Education: In order to inform the public regarding the position of Friends of Lake Tahoe regarding issues of importance, the organization maintains this website, writes newspaper articles for the local press, makes presentations to citizen groups which in clued community organizations such as service clubs, condo complex boards, business associations, professional organizations, , and also distributes printed information in the form of pamphlets, flyers, and handouts at events such as the Tahoe Summit. Such activities are constantly on-going.
  3. Research: To keep abreast of the multi-faceted activities that are on-going at any given time, a great deal of time is devoted to study of proposed projects, relevant governmental statutes and codes, as well as monitoring conflicting science and legally oriented reports.
  4. Governmental Testimony, meeting attendance, and filing comments: The President / CEO of Friends of Lake Tahoe attends and testifies regularly at Governing Board Meetings of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA), the Nevada TRPA Oversight Committee Hearings, and meetings of the Regional Plan Update (RPU) Committee, as well as before Count Boards of Supervisors, particularly Placer County. In addition, it files official written “comments” with the TRPA and other governmental entities, including planning departments, regarding proposed projects.
  5. Direct Political Lobbying Activities: In addition to filing comments and testifying, the President / CEO also communicates with elected and appointed governmental policy makers regarding maters germane to the to the welfare of Lake Tahoe. Such communications include letters, emails, telephone discussions, and personal office meetings. While constant, such activities ebb and flow depending upon timelines governing activities engaged in by the agencies and office holders at any given time.

A couple of the many issues that Friends of Lake Tahoe is, and has been for some time, investigating:


Liberty Utilities Electrical Rates in the Basin:

We disagree with arguments made by Liberty Utilities that certain upgrades to power lines are essential. We believe that they are not needed and instead are simply designed to increase profits by passing higher rates on to captive customers, many of whom are absent from following such issues because their Tahoe home is a “vacation” home.

We have worked carefully for years in a support role for the North Tahoe Citizen Action Alliance (President/CEO: Dave McClure) that has the lead position regarding this topic.

The following articles written by our CEO and Mr. McClure provide insight into this on-going issue:



The Tahoe TMDL developed by the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board and the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection:
(Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) is a regulatory term in the U.S. Clean Water Act, describing a plan for restoring impaired waters that identifies the maximum amount of a pollutant that a body of water can receive while still meeting water quality standards.)


Read carefully the following excerpt from:
Meeting Tahoe Clarity Targets

“Launched in 2011, the TMDL Program is a science-based plan to restore Lake Tahoe's water clarity back to its historic level of 97.4 feet by 2076. The program requires local governments and highway departments at Lake Tahoe to meet regular targets to reduce the amount of clarity-harming pollutants that wash into the lake.”

Please ponder: “by 2076.” What does that mean? Signify? A TMDL Plan / Guideline is truly needed for Lake Tahoe, but who, how, and why does one decide to use 65 years for the achievement of an environmental objective of clarity? Who in the agencies that created this plan will still be employed by the agencies in 2076, or alive in 2076? How about you, the reader? What does this say about the plan, the planners, and accountability? We decide we are going to put a man on the moon in a handful of years and do so. But it will take 65 years to restore clarity to the lake? That would be like promising in 1946 that something would be certain by 2011. 2076

Keep in mind that the clarity objective of 2076 is water clarity as of the mid 1960s.

Consider the following from:
Enviro Accounting

“Between 1968 and 2000, approximately one-third of Lake Tahoe’s unique clarity was lost. To address this issue, the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board (Lahontan Water Board) and Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP) collaborated to develop the Lake Tahoe TMDL. The Lake Tahoe TMDL is a science-based plan to better understand the causes of the loss in lake clarity, determine how much pollution needs to be reduced to reinstate historic clarity, and develop a workable, cost-effective implementation strategy. Now in the implementation and tracking phase, controls are being implemented to reduce pollutant loading to Lake Tahoe and Lahontan and NDEP are working closely with project implementers to track progress, report accomplishments, measure effectiveness and adaptively manage implementation efforts.”

At first glance this looks positive. In reality, it means that the “planners” are shooting from the hip and giving themselves more than a half century to do so. It means that if an environmental organization were to complain 20 years from now about the program’s lack of progress the controlling agencies could simply respond: “Don’t worry; we have just begun. We still have 45 years to go!”

For more background information about the Tahoe TMDL see the following from the EPA:
Water Quality Improvement Programs

From (April 22, 2011), when it began:
Tahoe Clarity Plan Passes State

“LAKE TAHOE – An unprecedented plan to return Lake Tahoe to historic clarity levels has moved one step closer to reality. The California State Water Resources Control Board on Tuesday approved the Lake Tahoe Total Maximum Daily Load, sending the plan to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for final approval. The plan, known as the TMDL, was developed by the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board and the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection to return the lake to 100 feet of clarity within 65 years.”

Again, we agree with the obvious need of a TMDL, but we wonder about the sincerity, the magnitude, and speed of an effort designed by two government agencies to achieve an objective when they give themselves 65 to do so. They have clearly passed this on to the next generation. Think about it.

Take Action:  Spread the word about the “65 Year Plan” that few are aware of!


Action regarding this topic currently underway by Friends of Lake Tahoe:

While we also are “spreading the word” by traditional political means, we are also very specifically researching the issue for national publications and public presentations.   Clearly, as with any issue, one needs to understand “how” this unbelievable decision got made.  That basically means also “who” made it and “why” was it made.  We believe this is a story that one would expect to find on “60 Minutes!”  No Lake Clarity Until 2076? Really!  This cannot stand.  The “Plan” needs to be altered. 

More specifically, we have constructed the following research framework:

Topic of Concern:

Water Clarity and the Degradation of Lake Tahoe:  Both Deep Water and Near Shore:

Primary Issues:

  1. Who (including which agency or other governmental body) is legally responsible for the implementation, periodic inspections and, where violations occur, enforcement of remedies to correct violations?  If there is concurrent jurisdiction, which agency or other  governmental body has the ultimate authority?

  1.  If any agency, other governmental body, or person identified in First Issue fails to either conduct required inspections and/or to enforce compliance, what remedy(s) is (are) available and by whom, short of public action, to compel said inspection(s) and enforcement? 

  1.  If no agency or other governmental body initiates enforcement procedures identified in Second Issue, or, alternatively, initiates enforcement procedures but thereafter fails to adequately carry out said procedures, what remedies are available to the public to compel said agency(s) or other governmental body to properly pursue said enforcement procedures?

Background Facts:

  1. Lake Tahoe is classified as one of only three bodies of water in America as a Tier III, Outstanding National Resource Waters (ONRW) according to the Clean Water Act.  This classification means “no degradation” is to be allowed.
  2. The Permit issued by California’s Lahontan Water Board to the City of South Lake Tahoe, El Dorado County, and Placer County regarding the discharge of pollutants into Lake Tahoe appears to lack a process for the enforcement of its “prohibitions” and “requirements” as well penalties for discharge violations regarding the Basin Plan and the
    “Total Maximum Daily Load” (TMDL).
  3. Storm water from urban and roadway conveyance systems continue to discharge contaminates directly into at levels that greatly exceed the 20 NTU (measurement of water turbidity) numerical limit set in the TMDL
  4. There are over 100 urban storm water outfall dumping directly into Lake Tahoe with 38 considered to be major polluters contributing to water impairment.
  5. The Lake Tahoe TMDL and its implementation programs assume the restoration of deep water clarity (by Secchi disk measurement) over a 65 year time frame – by 2076.  The near-shore, however, is eutrophying rapidly according to several indicators.  Monitoring of the near shore is not mandated in the TMDL.
  6. Infiltration practices, deemed by many as the best practice for the promotion of water clarity, are minimal and marginalized in the TMDL.
  7. The principle of “Adaptive Management” explained as an operational guideline in the Lahontan Permit seems to allow for the obviation of enforcement and penalties. 

Partial List of Legal Authorities:

State of California.  California Regional Water Quality Control Board – Lahontan Region. Order No. R & T-2011-101A1. NPDES No. CAG61001:  Updated Waste Discharge Requirements and National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit for Storm Water/Urban Runoff Discharges from El Dorado County, Placer County, and the City of South Lake Tahoe within the Lake Tahoe Hydrologic Unit.        

State of California.  State Water Resources Control Board:  Resolution No. 68-16 – Statement of Policy with Respect to Maintaining High Quality of Waters in California

United States of America:  Clean Water Act

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We need your contributions to spread the word across the nation. Lake Tahoe is a National Treasure!

Panorama of Lake Tahoe with Clounds
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Friends of Lake Tahoe
P.O. Box 1464
Tahoe City, CA 96145
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