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Drinking water plan endorsed

KINGS BEACH -Lake Tahoe planners Wednesday endorsed plans under way to protect the 118 drinking water sources – wells, lake intakes and springs – around the basin.

“I see this as an effort to protect source water in a way that’s never been addressed before,” said Kevin Cole, board member of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s advisory planning commission.

Under the Safe Water Drinking Act, all states are supposed to come up with similar plans. However, because two states comprise Tahoe’s watershed, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has provided funds to the TRPA to complete one plan for the entire basin. It’s also a commitment from the 1997 Lake Tahoe Presidential Forum.



At its Wednesday meeting the advisory board, which supplies recommendations to TRPA’s governing board, supported the agency’s efforts in completing the plan .

One part of the program is a Source Water Inventory Map, a Geographic Information System database showing all of the drinking water sources in the basin.



The GIS product will show “buffer zones” around drinking water sources. When a project is proposed within those areas that may affect a well, groundwater plume or lake intake valve, planners will be alerted. At that point, the owners of the wells or intakes that could be affected will be able to comment on the project.

Gasoline service stations, automobile repair shops, laundry facilities, grazing activities, vehicle storage yards and other businesses have the potential of contaminating drinking water supplies. Even stormwater retention basins and erosion-control projects can affect a groundwater plume that a well draws from.

Extra measures could be included in potential development to better protect the drinking water sources.

With current rules, water purveyors and even the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board are excluded from those planning processes.

The action has the support of numerous water agencies in the basin.

“This ordinance is one of the first to truly recognize the value of the Lake Tahoe Basin’s groundwater resources,” Rick Hydrick, manager of the South Tahoe Public Utility District’s water operations, said in a letter to the board.

While supporting the ongoing effort, TRPA planners Wednesday urged the agency’s staff to be cautious and not allow the soon-to-be approved ordinances to overlap with other agencies’ rules.

“I think it’s too big of a redundancy,” said Ron McIntyre, the commission’s only member to vote against the plan.

breakout

Wells, lake intakes and springs that are sources for drinking water by county

El Dorado Placer Washoe Douglas Total

Wells 111 23 1 5 140

Intakes 2 10 2 8 22

Springs 5 4 0 0 9

Total 118 37 3 13 171


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