by Kathy Whitlow, Operations Manager

Everyone can have a role to play in protecting the Truckee River watershed and the involvement of local homeowners is essential. Science shows that implementation of soil erosion control measures on already-developed properties – your home – is critical step towards improving and preserving water quality.

The Truckee River Watershed Council’s River-Friendly Landscaping program helps homeowners prevent or reduce soil erosion from area residential properties, a major source of pollution in our area streams and the Truckee River.

The soil that erodes from residential properties is nonpoint source (NPS) pollution. NPS is caused by any water such as rainfall, snowmelt, or even from irrigation and hoses, moving over and through the ground. As the water moves, it picks up and carries pollutants such as phosphorus, depositing them into rivers, wetlands, and lakes.

River-Friendly Landscaping participants have implemented over 160 soil erosion control measures to prevent NPS pollution. These measures are also referred to “Best Management Practices”, or BMPs. BMPs are a way to describe practices that could be implemented to protect water quality and promote soil conservation. For homeowners, BMPs are a “measure” that you install such as a retention basin to capture runoff or groundcover vegetation over bare soil areas.

What difference does one home make? With no BMPs installed on your property, an average of one ton of soil may be lost per year, per lot. (Derived by NRCS/USDA from USLE home sites.)

Often, it’s simple measures that can make the most difference. Our top recommended measures after visiting over 300 area homes are:

  • Driplines- runoff from your rooftop can cause “drip line erosion.” Roofs are impervious surfaces and rain that drips below the eaves can cause significant erosion and water damage. Using gravel, vegetation or other measures under your driplines protects the area allowing runoff to soak back into the ground.
  • Bare soil- Bare soil areas are hot spots for erosion, susceptible to wind and water that can carry soil off the property to streams and rivers. Native or adapted drought tolerant plants combined with mulch creates a low maintenance landscape and is great for stabilizing soils.


Click here for photos of commonly recommended soil erosion control measures.

River-Friendly Landscaping is a free, voluntary program that provides you with a site plan and assistance to install erosion control measures. Getting your FREE site evaluation will help you understand the things you can do on your specific property to protect our native ecosystems! Qualifying homeowners can receive up to $1,000 in reimbursement for labor and material costs until all rebate funds are exhausted. To join in the effort, call (530) 550-8760, ext. 3.