Lahontan ups standards for Heavenly runoff |

Lahontan ups standards for Heavenly runoff

Amanda Fehd
Runoff from Saddle Road flows down June Way in the neighborhood below Heavenly's California base lodge.

Regulators confirmed last week that Heavenly Mountain Resort has violated water quality standards four times since 2004, but said it is a result of stricter standards being placed on the resort.

Heavenly is in the process of updating its erosion control, called best management practices, in order to comply with the new standards.

The resort has until 2008 to come into full compliance.

Heavenly was in compliance until 2003, when Lahontan Water Board updated the resort’s 1991 permit.

At that point, the water quality regulator decided Heavenly should comply with stricter standards, since the water from its parking lot enters directly into a stream, said Lahontan division director Lauri Kemper. They had received complaints from neighbors about pollutants running off the parking lot, she said.

Lahontan regulates water quality in the Sierra.

The resort has completed plans to retrofit a filtration system at Bijou Park Creek and should commence construction this fall, Kemper said.

Since 2004, Heavenly violated the stream standards four times, twice each for phosphorous and sediments, both thought to play a role in Lake Tahoe’s declining clarity.

Present levels of oil and grease would violate standards going into effect in 2008, but Kemper was confident the new filtration system would address that.

During recent public hearings on changes to Heavenly’s master plan, a couple of neighbors took the chance to express their concerns about water quality and litter in the area.

Rod Hayes lives in the area below the resort’s California Lodge parking lot.

“The bottom line is the existing BMPs are not working properly,” Hayes told the Governing Board of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency on July 26. “The existing creeks are being overburdened, and consistently violate water quality standards for de-icers, iron, oil and nutrients.”

Heavenly spokesman Russ Pecoraro reiterated that it will begin retrofit on its filtration system this fall, completing work by fall 2007.

“For the short-term, this summer we will repair existing roadside channels to decrease overland flow to the neighborhoods,” he said.

He said wet conditions caused by a heavy winter are to be expected in a stream area where the neighbors have their homes.

Another neighbor, Josh Bennin, said Heavenly is displacing its pollution by plowing snow onto city property.

Heavenly has an agreement to plow city roads near the resort.

“Heavenly is an appalling source of litter,” Bennin continued. “Living downwind from Heavenly’s parking lot is like living downwind of a landfill.”

Pecoraro said the resort takes pride in cleanliness.

“On any given day during the winter, if you go into the California parking lot after cleanup crews have gone through, you won’t see any trash,” he said.

The resort’s mountain operations crew did a neighborhood cleanup in June that spanned from Ski Run Boulevard to Keller Avenue to the resort, he said.

He urged neighbors to contact the resort first to see if issues can be resolved.

“The TRPA hearings is the first we’ve heard of (Bennin and Hayes’) issues,” Pecoraro said. “Part of being a good neighbor is that two-way communication of neighbor to neighbor. When people bring those issue to us, we try to address them.”

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