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New water plant serves Lakeside area

Patrick McCartney

Simple, reliable and economical.

That’s how the managers of the Lakeside Water Utility District describe the new water filtration plant that supplies drinking water to 137 residences and businesses in South Lake Tahoe’s Lakeside neighborhood.

The $2.9 million facility, which can treat up to 610,000 gallons of Lake Tahoe water a day, will be opened for visits Sunday, when the Lakeside Park Association sponsors an open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Water drawn from 2,600 feet off Lake Tahoe’s shore is pumped into the plant, where a coagulant is added before it is sent to two filtration tanks. The water is flushed through clarifiers and then through a bed of sand, which removes three-fourths of the water’s organic material.

Dave Usher, the district’s general manager, said untreated Lake Tahoe water is already better than treated water available in many other communities.

“A lot of water suppliers would love to have our raw water as a finished product,” Usher said.

After the Lakeside water is treated, the organic matter that accounts for turbidity is barely detectable. A small amount of chlorine – less than half of what was previously used – is then added to the final product.

As part of the improvement program, the district built a 215,000-gallon storage tank, which provides residents with better fire protection and allows the chlorine more time to treat the water.

Because of Lake Tahoe’s isolation and severe winters, almost every component of the system has been given a backup to prevent service disruptions, Usher said. There are two filtration units and redundant coagulant and chlorine injectors, pumps and generators.

The filtration material is flushed as often as once a day, but 90 percent of the backwash is recycled after the waste material is removed.

Ed McCarthy, the president of the district’s board of directors, said the district investigated each type of treatment plant available before choosing a filtration plant.

“I’ve learned more about water than I ever wanted to know,” McCarthy said.

Kirkwood-Bly Inc. of Santa Rosa was the project’s contractor, SPH Associates of Cameron Park the engineering firm and Earl Hagadorn of Tahoe City the project’s civil engineer.

Built to comply with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, the Lakeside filtration plant is the fifth treatment plant to be completed in the Tahoe Basin over the last two years. Water suppliers who draw water from surface sources must build either filtration or ozone disinfection plants to eliminate the possibility of such water-borne illnesses as giardiasis and cryptosporidia.

The Lakeside plant is the third filtration plant in the basin. The Round Hill General Improvement District opened a dual-medium filtration plant in November, 1995 and the Skyland district began operating a microfiltration plant earlier this year.

Incline Village and Kingsbury general improvement district each opened ozone disinfection plants in 1995, while the private ozone treatment plant of Glenbrook is ready to go on line in a few more weeks.


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