In partnership with the Tahoe Water Suppliers Association, UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center (TERC), Tahoe Fund and Take Care Tahoe, Raley’s in Incline Village has become the first major Tahoe area business to encourage their customers not to buy single-use water bottles. Instead, the grocer is asking its patrons to consider purchasing DRINK TAHOE TAP branded reusable Klean Kanteen water bottles.
In addition to making the bottles available to customers for purchase, Raley’s has incorporated signage from the Take Care Tahoe campaign in their in-store displays where single-use plastic water bottles are shelved to help educate customers about the impacts of single-use and microplastics on the environment and specifically the Lake Tahoe Watershed. The signage also advises customers how they can find water refill stations throughout the Lake Tahoe Basin.
“With 99.994% purity, Tahoe tap water has been voted the best tasting water in the country by the National Rural Water Association,” said Madonna Dunbar, executive director of the Tahoe Water Suppliers Association. “The DRINK TAHOE TAP initiative was designed to reduce the use of single-use plastics and increase accessibility to drinking water filling stations throughout the region. We’ve historically provided grants to incentivize businesses to install water filling stations, and we’re excited to be working with Raley’s to encourage people to purchase and use reusable water bottles instead of single-use versions that end up in the landfill or worse — in Lake Tahoe.”
Recent research from TERC has shown that microplastics were present at every beach tested around the lake. To respond to this and reduce the impacts of litter and micro-plastic pollution on the Lake Tahoe watershed, a pilot project has been developed with the intention of reducing source water plastic pollution. The goal of the project is to raise the level of public awareness about Non-Point Source (NPS) pollution and its effect on Lake Tahoe’s famed water quality.
“It is incredible to have a partner like Raley’s who puts the environment and our community ahead of their own profits,” said Heather Segale, education and outreach director for the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center. “We hope that other local grocery stores will be interested in joining the effort to promote reusable water bottle sales as an alternative to single-use plastics.”
To expand the program, students from the Incline High School AP Environmental Science class will work with the Tahoe Water Suppliers Association (TWSA), UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center (TERC), and Sierra Watershed Education Partnerships (SWEP) to conduct outreach to local grocery store managers and staff, conduct surveys to determine why individuals choose single-use plastics and to promote alternatives, deliver alternative reusable water bottles, and utilize both local media and social media to promote this project.
Learn more about DRINK TAHOE TAP and where to find water refill stations throughout the Lake Tahoe basin at drinktahoetap.org.