Nevada stakeholders finalize water protections during national rivers month

Nevada stakeholders finalize water protections during national rivers month
Lake Tahoe's water clarity. Image: Gabby Dodd

By Suzanne Potter
This story was originally published by Public News Service.

LAKE TAHOE — June is National Rivers Month, and the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (DEP) is getting ready to nominate Lake Tahoe and likely some of the state’s mountain streams for special protection.

The state has been working for two years to come up with a list of Extraordinary Ecological, Aesthetic, or Recreational Waters, as required by the Clean Water Act.

Pam Harrington, field coordinator for Trout Unlimited, said the Silver State is playing a bit of catch-up.

“Nevada has lagged far behind in having special protections for the highest quality waters,” Harrington observed. “Nearly every other state in the United States has a policy in place for this. So we’ve been behind.”

Harrington said Tahoe would be a no-brainer, but she would like to see protections for some streams in the Ruby Mountains and for the Mahogany and Alder streams feeding into Summit Lake; important habitat for native Lahontan trout. The Nevada Conservation League is pressing the state to streamline the nomination process to make it easier for laypeople to participate.

Harrington added the changes would preserve the status quo and protect against future degradation.

“An ecological and aesthetic or recreational water in the state of Nevada would be afforded the highest level of protection,” Harrington explained. “To disallow new pollution sources to be introduced into those waters.”

The DEP has held multiple webinars with government, tribal, environmental and industry stakeholders. The state environmental commission gets the final say on the policy and is expected to take up the matter this fall.