Bijou Park Creek
About the Project
The 850-acre Bijou Park Creek Watershed is a large watershed extending from Heavenly Mountain Resort down to Ski Run Marina. It is bounded on the west by Herbert Avenue and on the east by Bowers Avenue. The developed areas within the historic creek alignment including Bill Avenue, Shirley Avenue, Werner Salas Drive, Vanda Lee Avenue, Blackwood Road, Rockwood Drive, and Woodbine Road now experience significant amounts of flooding due to the extensive and uncontrolled development within a historic stream environment zone in the 1950s, prior to incorporation of the City or current day land use restrictions.
As a heavily urbanized watershed, urban runoff may contain nutrients and sediment from the upper watershed, residential and commercial properties, and runoff from roadways. Restoration and enhancement of the Bijou Park Creek Watershed has long been considered an important aspect of the Lake Tahoe Environmental Improvement Program, with the multi-objective desire to reduce urban pollutants and address long standing aquatic invasive species (AIS) issues in the Marina. Although the watershed was long-ago developed and includes a high concentration of residential and commercial properties, the City, the California Tahoe Conservancy, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA), U.S. Forest Service and other local agencies and environmental groups have identified improvements to the watershed as a high priority. The watershed-scale project seeks to address water quality and flooding issues first in the in the Lower Bijou Park Creek area (Phase 1/Wholefoods), in order to provide treatment for runoff from roadways, commercial and residential areas in the lower watershed that historically discharged directly to the marina and Lake Tahoe. The second phase of the project is focused on the large upper watershed area that is subject to historic flooding, development impacts in SEZ areas, and water quality issues. The upper watershed project includes plans to restore SEZ and floodplain areas, provide drainage solutions to support future active transportation improvements focused on the Bijou Community School, and include distributed natural treatment systems to reduce sediment and nutrients loads in urban runoff that has the potential to impact Lake Tahoe.
At a March 14, 2017 meeting, the City Council adopted Resolution 2017-16 establishing the three phases of the Bijou Park Creek Watershed Restoration Project.
Phase 1 included acquisition of the various parcels in and around the former Knights Inn motel, demolition of all development on the Knights Inn properties including the 110-room hotel, the restaurant, conference center and single-family residence on Lloyd Avenue. Once the site was cleared, developable portions of the site were sold to the private developer for construction of the Wholefoods while the City maintained ownership of the water quality improvement areas to provide public flood mitigation, SEZ restoration, and detention basins for the removal of sediment and nutrients. More photos and information on this phase of the project can be seen on the TRPA EIP Project Tracker.
Phase 2 is the study of the Upper Watershed to develop meaningful recommendations for watershed restoration. The City has been awarded just under $500,000 of Prop 1 funds from the California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRQB) to study the Bijou Creek Park Watershed for projects that will lead to implementation of improvements.
Phase 3 would be the implementation of those recommendations.
This project incorporates Osgood Basin Expansion (EIP #01.01.01.0156) and is needed to facilitate above-ground mobility improvements for the Spruce and Blackwood Complete Streets Project (EIP #03.02.02.0097)
Concurrently TRPA is working on a regional planning effort within the larger watershed: Ski Run “Mountain to Marina” Green Infrastructure Planning
Phase 1 was completed in 2020 and Phase 2/3 expected to be completed 2025