Authorities responded during the weekend to an estimated 15-gallon sewage spill at Fresh Ketch restaurant at Tahoe Keys Marina in South Lake Tahoe.
Bryan Vyverberg, senior environmental health specialist for El Dorado County’s Environmental Health Department, responded to the restaurant Saturday after the spill was reported.
“I did a walk around the property and there were puddles of I’m sure it was sewage behind the restaurant. So at that point I went in, introduced myself to staff and told them they needed to contact a plumber immediately,” Vyverberg said.
Sewage spilled onto pavement right next to the lake after a clogged sewer line backed up into an approximately 2 foot by 3 foot overflow vault and filled it. The sewage spill is suspected to have started Friday evening, Vyverberg said.
Vyverberg said the system was fixed Saturday and was functioning properly when inspected Monday.
“At this point we would say the condition has been corrected. I don’t have a specific (cause) for the blockage,” Vyverberg said.
Robert Spinnato, general manager at Tahoe Keys Marina, put the blame on someone flushing plastic bags down the restaurant’s toilets.
“This has been an occurring problem,” Spinnato wrote in an email. “These problems started because we are in the process of evicting two tenants for not paying their bills. They are trying to cause problems.”
Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board collected water samples from the lake Monday for bacterial analysis. That will help determine the extent of the spill and contamination and whether the business will face fines.
“We’re looking for the extent to which there is bacterial contamination in the area,” said Lauri Kemper, assistant executive director for Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board.
Initial test results should be available by noon Tuesday, Kemper said, adding that testing can be confounded by waste from animals such as birds.
“Typically we sample for a few days in a row to watch the (bacteria) levels drop,” Kemper said.
Sewage discharges into Lake Tahoe and other bodies of surface water in the basin are prohibited. Fines can range up to $10,000 per day, according to Kemper.