Snow Pile in the Far East Parking Lot
As you may have noticed, we have a huge pile of snow in our Palisades Tahoe parking lot. 723″ of snowfall and counting this 2022-2023 season covers a lot of our parking lots and without the help of snowplows we would still be buried under all of it. But why do we stack it up versus blowing it into the Wa She Shu Creek where it could wash away?
At Palisades Tahoe we prioritize water quality and take action to minimize our impact on the environment. One of our major concerns is the snow that accumulates on the road and parking surfaces, can contain a significant amount of particulate matter. If this snow is not stored properly, the particulate matter can end up in the watershed and runoff from our snow piles.
To address this issue, we worked with an engineer to develop and implement a project that involved paving a previously dirt lot and modifying the snow storage area to include a bioswale. A bioswale is a type of green infrastructure that is designed to manage water runoff and improve water quality. Our bioswale is designed with a gradual slope that leads to a low point surrounded by a compacted berm. The low point of the slope features a wide swath of loose sandy soil, which allows for a high percolation rate and serves as a filter for the snow melt before it can enter our natural waterways.
Underneath the soil, a French drain is buried to provide an outlet for the filtered water to flow into the nearby creek. The low point surface is seeded with native wetland species, while an upland seed mix was used along the berm and slope leading to the bioswale. These measures help to ensure that our snow storage practices have minimal impact on water quality while promoting the natural habitat and growth of local plant species. Bioswales are a sustainable solution to snowmelt management because they mimic the natural processes that occur in healthy ecosystems.