USDA Forest Service

Pacific Southwest Research Station


Pacific Southwest Research Station
800 Buchanan Street
Albany, CA 94710-0011

(510) 559-6300

United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service. USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.

Quantifying cost effectiveness of different road dust control strategies applied in the Lake Tahoe Basin

Completed in October 2010, this study assessed the impact of best management practices (BMPs) designed to reduce the contribution from road dust resuspended by vehicles. Previous emissions studies by these researchers have shown that nearly 300 metric tons of fine particulates are contributed annually to the atmosphere by vehicles traveling on paved roads in the basin.

Lead Researchers: John Gillies, Hampden Kuhns, Vicken Etyemezian, and Alan Gertler at the Desert Research Institute; Steven Cliff, UC Davis

Final Report

Project Summary

Lake Tahoe's water clarity has decreased from ~100 feet in the 1970 to ~70 feet in the last few years.  Fine inorganic particles are causing about 58% of light attenuation in Secchi disk measurements of water clarity. The 2010 draft of the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) report indicates that the sources of sediment include Urban Upland Loading (i.e. storm water runoff 72%), Non-urban Upland Loading (9%), Atmospheric Deposition (both dry and wet 15%), Stream Channel Erosion (4%). This project report describes measurements and results collected in the Tahoe Basin that investigate the transport, deposition, chemistry, and emission control strategies of road dust that is a primary component of both the upland loading and atmospheric deposition sources.


Figure: Road dust emissions are being measured with the DRI-designed TRAKER system, a specially equipped 1979 Chevrolet van that monitors, measures, and analyzes airborne particles on-the-fly as they are kicked up by the front tires (courtesy Desert Research Institute). Panel a shows the front view of vehicle with inlets mounted behind both tires and on front bumper.  Panel b shows rear view of vehicle with generator and vacuum pumps.

Last Modified: Mar 28, 2013 02:52:07 PM