Distributed Detention Basins: A Novel Approach to Stormwater Management

1. Stormwater from the urbanized areas around Lake Tahoe is known to be the largest source of clarity reducing contaminants, such as fine particles and nutrients. Using LiDAR data we have been able to construct the hydrological flow paths of water in these urban areas. Combined with the micro-scale topography that the LiDAR data provides, we have identified potential sites for hundreds of small, distributed detention basins through the Tahoe Basin. Collectively they can hold back and infiltrate 100 times more stormwater that is presently happening.

2. The detention basin sites that have been identified are small, and as a result are cheaper to permit and construct and they can readily blend into the environment. Working with resource agencies in both California and Nevada we are helping to identify the best sites and establish monitoring protocols that will all be fully tested prior to broad scale implementation.

3. TERC partnered with Dr. Juan Francisco Reinoso and Dr. Carlos Leon from the University of Granada, Spain, in the design and the undertaking of this research project. The initial funding was from SNPLMA, but subsequent funding is being provided by the Tahoe Resource Conservation District.

Urban watershed capture areas (green) for detention basins (red) in a part of Incline Village, NV.

The red areas indicate potential distributed detention basin locations in a part of South Lake Tahoe.