Work resumes in May on a two-year, $2 million project to upgrade Lukins Brothers Water Company’s water lines in South Lake Tahoe.
The privately-owned water utility got a bank loan to pay for the project. It’s the first of 11 phases needed to rehabilitate the entire system, estimated to cost about $24 million in total.
Half of the project was completed last year. Crews replaced about 3,000 feet of 4-inch water line with new 12-inch line along 12th Street.
Over six to nine weeks this summer, crews will upgrade another 3,000 feet of 4-inch water lines along James Street, the shoulder of Highway 89 and to Lukins’ shop on West Way.
“This first phase connects all of our sources, our three wells, into a continuous loop so if one well or pump goes down the other two can supply the system,” operations manager Jennifer Lukins said.
The project also installs fire hydrants. The hydrants and larger lines will increase the amount of the system with adequate fire protection by about 40 percent, Lukins said.
The utility’s 960 customers are paying for the upgrade through a new surcharge. It will appear on bills starting in June. The size of the surcharge depends on the type of customer, but is estimated to be about $20 per month for a single-family home.
Lukins said the utility is pursuing grants to pay for the other 10 phases of work needed to rehabilitate the water system. But grants are scarce for privately-owned utility improvements, she said.
“We’re trying to get grants because there’s no way we can expect our customers to absorb all of the cost of upgrading. This year, I’ve already submitted for 12 different grants for a number of projects.”