A controversial proposal to use herbicides on invasive plants in the Tahoe Keys, in South Tahoe, is expected to win EPA any day now.
EPA officials say the agency is still evaluating potential water quality issues, but even critics of the Tahoe Keys plan say they've been told approval is imminent.
“We’re going to look at all the options we have out there that have been used all over the U.S. and other countries, and then we will include some of those tools that include herbicides that have been approved by both the federal EPA and the state Environmental Protection Agency," says Dr. Lars Anderson, the scientist who designed the weed management plan.
The Tahoe Water Suppliers Association – which supplies drinking water from Lake Tahoe to six local counties – is the most vocal opponent. Executive director Madonna Dunbar says she’s concerned about chemicals migrating from the Keys, since Tahoe drinking water suppliers don’t currently filter for chemicals.
“A drop of water can stay in this lake for 700 years before it leaves," she says. "Other water bodies don’t have that type of residence time so that’s another special consideration, we feel. ”
Upon approval, the plan will go to the Lahontan Water Board for possible adoption in October. So far, conservation groups have stayed out of the debate.