More tax money goes to fight fuel additive |

More tax money goes to fight fuel additive

Andy Bourelle

The South Tahoe Public Utility District has gained – rather than lost – money this week regarding its fight against MTBE.

In passing its annual budget, the El Dorado County Water Agency Tuesday agreed to give more than $100,000 in additional funds to the STPUD.

However, STPUD had asked for $500,000.

“We’re glad we got some money,” said STPUD Information Officer Dawn Forsythe after the meeting.

According to STPUD, taxpayers from South Lake Tahoe send $250,000 each year in property taxes to the water agency. About $125,000 is dispersed each year to STPUD.

The budget was amended to allow that amount to be changed to $210,000 for the fiscal year.

The vote for the item was 4-1, with water agency board member Walt Shultz voting against it. Shultz said he supported STPUD’s fight but felt the water agency should find another way to help, rather than turn over money to the utility district.

However, other board members disagreed.

“It is clear to me that there is nobody better equipped to deal with the problem than (STPUD),” Supervisor John Upton said.

The resolution allows for 80 percent of what is collected by the agency in the South Lake Tahoe area in a year to go to STPUD.

MTBE – methyl tertiary butyl ether – is a synthetic chemical oxygenated gasoline additive which comprises about 11 percent of the gasoline used in California. It is a gasoline additive that is classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a possible cancer-causing agent. At low levels, between 15 and 40 parts per billion, people can detect MTBE in water. It smells and tastes like turpentine.

Twelve of STPUD’s 34 drinking water wells have been impacted by the additive in the last year, costing the district an estimated $1.3 million in unbudgeted expenses.

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