He not only works at Lake Tahoe but that’s where he plays too. “My wife and I are often kayaking around the lake when we have some free time,” said Alan Heyvaert, Ph.D., DRI assistant research professor.
Since the early 1990’s Heyvaert has studied the natural processes and issues related to watershed management and worked with resource management agencies at Lake Tahoe to coordinate research and monitoring programs. Heyvaert first began his work on the paleolimnology at Lake Tahoe, focusing on sedimentation processes while a graduate student at UC Davis.
As a limnologist at DRI with professional experience in a variety of aquatic ecosystems, Heyvaert continues to study water quality issues in the Lake Tahoe Basin, with an applied research focus on the effective design of storm water monitoring and treatment systems.
“It’s not just me; all of us who work at Tahoe want to do what is best for the ecosystem of the basin. Both DRI and University of Nevada, Reno scientists have made important contributions in helping to develop a strategic framework for research priorities at Lake Tahoe–one that recognizes the pressing needs of today as well as those of the future,” Heyvaert said.
“We’ve been accepted as a partner at the table, and we are working collectively in terms of developing strategic initiatives for the future as well as responding actively and tactically to the immediate issues that management teams grapple with on a day-to-day basis at Tahoe,” Heyvaert added.
The focus of Heyvaert’s applied research program investigates sediment and nutrient removal processes by stormwater management techniques, which are known as best management practices (BMPs). BMPs in the Lake Tahoe basin range from constructed wetlands to highway sediment capture and nutrient removal structures.
“One of our goals is to develop standardized set of protocols for monitoring, reporting, and evaluating the performance of erosion control and storm water management projects in the Lake Tahoe basin. The unique climate, geology, vegetation, environmental management practices, and desired water quality in Lake Tahoe result in conditions and water treatment processes that are unique to the Lake Tahoe basin,” Heyvaert said.
One of Heyvaert’s latest BMP projects has him collaborating with colleagues at the University of California Davis, the place where he earned his Ph.D. in ecology.
“In collaboration with UC Davis, we are working to create a stormwater test plot system that will provide a modular set of replicate treatment cells for experimenting with pollutant removal processes,” Heyvaert said. “This system will allow researchers to test which treatments are best at filtering fine sediment and removing nutrients before runoff water can enter the lake.”
He is also working with scientific colleagues to develop a comprehensive and consistent storm water data base for the Lake Tahoe basin.
Heyvaert’s work on nutrient budgets and mass balance models for watershed management extends well beyond Lake Tahoe. He has developed numerous research projects and directed studies on nutrient and pollutant loadings to lakes, rivers and reservoirs in the western U.S. and South America.