Water companies to discuss contaminated drinking wells in South Lake Tahoe | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Water companies to discuss contaminated drinking wells in South Lake Tahoe

Claire Cudahy
South Lake Tahoe water companies are holding a public meeting to discuss the toxic plume contaminating drinking wells down by the "Y."
Provided / STPUD |

A toxic plume contaminating groundwater in South Lake Tahoe since the late ‘80s has forced the closure of several drinking water wells over the years — and on Wednesday, Feb. 7, officials from several water companies will update the public on the cleanup process.

South Tahoe Public Utility District, Lukins Brothers Water Company and Tahoe Keys Property Owners Association are hosting a public meeting to discuss the groundwater contaminant tetrachloroethylene, or PCE, which has tainted 400 acres down near the “Y” in South Lake Tahoe.

As of today, the plume has impacted five public drinking wells.

PCE is a chemical that was used as a solvent for dry cleaning clothes and degreasing metal, but eventually listed as a probable carcinogen and toxic pollutant in the late 1980s.

The PCE plume in South Lake Tahoe, at least in part, originated from Lake Tahoe Laundry Works, which operated from the 1970s until 2011 near the Y. The PCE spilled during deliveries of the chemical to its coin-operated dry cleaning unit that was in use from 1972 to 1979.

In 1989, PCE was discovered in drinking wells in South Lake Tahoe.

Parties associated with the laundromat property and responsible for its cleanup studied the site from 2003 to 2008 and began remedial work in 2010. Prior to that, STPUD and TKPOA installed treatment facilities to remove PCE from their wells with varying degrees of success. LBWC stopped using wells where PCE was detected.

Last May, the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board issued an order calling for additional study and remedial work by the responsible parties. At the same time, they admitted it is possible that there are other parties responsible for portions of the PCE, and further investigation is needed.

Wednesday’s meeting will be held from 6 – 7:30 p.m. at the South Lake Tahoe Airport in the City Council Chambers. Attendees will “learn more about PCE and what local water agencies are doing to make sure you have access to clean water,” according to a press release from STPUD.

For more information, visit http://www.stpud.us/groundwater.

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