Export pipe project on track
Utility workers hope motorists will go with the flow as a new wastewater line is installed this summer.
The South Tahoe Public Utility District is installing a new export line to carry recycled wastewater out of the basin. The latest phase of the project has resulted in five-minute traffic delays on Highway 89 near Luther Pass, said Dennis Cocking, STPUD information officer.
The 10,500-foot iron pipe, a segment of the so-called “B line,” is being laid from the Grass Lake flats to the Alpine County line.
The B line is the second phase of a $35 million project to replace the old export line constructed in 1968. The Environmental Protection Agency mandated the line’s replacement in 1995.
“In 1986 we had a major blowout of the pipeline that was directly attributed to questionable construction mistakes,” Cocking said. “Our goal is to make this thing a much more trouble-free line.”
In the late ’80s, Cocking said the district received about $2.7 million from a settlement with the company that constructed the line more than 30 years ago. He said the contractor is no longer in business, and the settlement didn’t contribute to the line’s replacement.
Federal funds and matching grants paid for the majority of the project.
The A line replacement, which runs from the wastewater treatment plant in South Lake Tahoe to the Luther Pass pumping station, began in 1995 and ended last year.
Cocking said the gravity-fed C line, which runs from the Alpine County line to the Harvey Place Reservoir, won’t need to be replaced for another 20 years because it suffers less wear and tear.
Cocking said the district will switch over to the new segment by mid-October, with the last phase of construction scheduled next year.
In 1968, California lawmakers passed legislation requiring all wastewater to be pumped out of the Tahoe basin.
The district exports five million gallons of recycled water out of the basin every day, averaging 1.8 billion gallons annually.
The treated wastewater is stored in 3,800 acre-foot Harvey Place Reservoir during the winter. Alpine County ranchers use all of the reclaimed water for irrigation in the summer.
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