Groundwater Management Plan adoption under consideration |

Groundwater Management Plan adoption under consideration

Emily Aughinbaugh, Tribune staff writer

Leaking underground gasoline tanks may soon be less threatening to the Tahoe Basin’s groundwater.

The South Tahoe Public Utility District is holding a public hearing Thursday to consider the adoption of a Groundwater Management Plan the agency has been working on for two years.

The plan focuses on the early detection and extraction of uncontrolled petroleum product leaks that may pollute groundwater.

To avoid costly cleanups like those associated with the MTBE leaks, STPUD plans to install six monitoring wells that will detect leaks at gas stations in the basin and can then extract them.

“If we could catch a spill at the time of the spill it will be easier to remediate,” said Dennis Cocking, STPUD’s information officer. “This is a proactive plan not a reactive one. It’s a low-tech but effective system.”

With 12 wells already in place, Cocking said implementation of the plan could be quick. During the second year of the project six wells more will be installed.

Although the plan is estimated at $500,000, Cocking said the monitoring wells are cheaper than cleaning up another massive spill.

He said it will cost almost $6 million to clean up the MTBE leaks at the Tahoe Tom’s site.

“A million dollars does not go very far in MTBE cleanup at all,” Cocking said. “This (Groundwater Management Plan) is real cheap insurance. It will be thousands in remediation as opposed to millions.”

Cocking said the project will be paid for by county water agency funds. He said the plan also sets out requirements of the gas stations. Each station would be required to develop an Early Detection Immediate Response System in the event of a spill.

Ed Givant, manager/owner of Stop N Save Gas Liquor Market, 2470 Lake Tahoe Blvd., said he hopes the Groundwater Management Plan is passed. But Givant said it won’t effect him too much because he already has three monitoring wells and emergency notification procedures.

“I think (the plan) is a great idea,” Givant said. “But most all the gas stations are up to code now. Five years ago they were a disaster.”

What: South Tahoe Public Utility District meeting

When: 2 p.m., Thursday

Where: City Council Chambers, 1900 Lake Tahoe Blvd.

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