Proposed permit terms spell out the steps Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority and Pyro Spectaculars North must take to hold their Fourth of July and Labor Day fireworks shows, following the settlement of a lawsuit alleging debris from the shows falling into the scenic mountain lake was a violation of the federal Clean Water Act.
Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District will be responsible for issuing permits for the fireworks shows, a 30-year South Shore tradition that almost came to an end because of the lawsuit, sparking strong public outcry.
The lawsuit was filed by Joan and Joseph Truxler after large amounts of fireworks debris washed ashore near their PineWild home on Marla Bay following last year’s shows. It was recently settled with their approval.
“We will meet with Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District this month to nail down what needs to be done and get the process going, and for them to educate us and for us to build the framework with them and then execute,” said Mike Frye, event and media relations manager for LTVA.
“Part of that execution is to relook at the shells we’re shooting, to make sure they are going to leave the least residue possible, and then have a pickup program that works in case something does wash up on the beach. We hope it doesn’t, like in the previous 33 years.”
LTVA and Pyro Spectaculars North always have strived to clean up after the South Shore fireworks shows and were taken aback by reports of debris on area beaches following last year’s shows, Frye said. “The bottom line to us is the fireworks shows are important to the community and keeping the lake pristine is important to the community as well.”
As part of the lawsuit settlement, the permit would require surface debris cleanup by a boat crew the night of a fireworks show, surface and underwater cleanup by a boat crew and divers the following day and foot patrols to hunt for debris on area beaches for at least five days after a show.
“Much of what is going to be done has been done in the past, but certainly there are some additions to the effort,” said Ian Gilfillan, vice president of Pyro Spectaculars North.
“Everybody understands the conditions and with a lot of cooperation and organization all of the terms of the permit can be met,” Gilfillan said. “We’re excited about continuing the great tradition of fireworks in Tahoe and the displays we’ve provided for years.”
One new condition is the creation of a phone and email hotline for people to report complaints about fireworks debris. The hotline would be up for at least three months after a fireworks show. “That will be beneficial to the whole process, and that’s why it’s in there,” Gilfillan said.
Another new permit condition would be the creation of an official event log. Once completed, the log would be provided to the Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and Nevada Department of Environmental Protection and also made available to the public. The log would detail all cleanup efforts including the locations and amounts of fireworks debris collected. It also must certify best management practices were implemented for the fireworks show.
The Truxlers said they never wanted to see the fireworks shows end and are confident the more formalized process and oversight will allow the popular South Shore fireworks shows to continue and help ensure things are adequately cleaned up. “If we can implement those things, and you can’t implement them all at one time, some of them will take some time, the discharge of debris will be significantly less and the lake will be better off. Without a doubt,” Joseph Truxler said.