Round Hill to test for MTBE |

Round Hill to test for MTBE

As soon as Mother Nature cooperates, the Round Hill General Improvement District plans to start a six-month testing period to help determine whether to move its water intake line farther into Lake Tahoe.

The reason?

Surprise, surprise – MTBE.

“We’re going to start a six-month sampling period. We were supposed to start in March, but the weather hasn’t been very agreeable for us to get out on the lake,” said Bob Loding, general manager of the district. “The whole purpose of the sampling is to find out, if we move our intake out will it lessen our exposure to MTBE?”

The Round Hill General Improvement District, which serves 460 customers on Lake Tahoe’s southeast shore, takes its drinking water from 670 feet out in Lake Tahoe, at a depth of less than 20 feet. While the water is treated, the system cannot remove MTBE. Trace levels of the controversial additive – below any state or federal thresholds -were discovered last summer.

Round Hill will be testing at the current intake and at 1,000 and 2,500 feet out into Lake Tahoe.

“The whole purpose of the six-month study is to find out if we move it out, will it have beneficial use to us,” Loding said. “That’s where the district was coming from. Instead of saying, ‘Let’s move it out,’ they decided, ‘let’s take a look at it first.'”

MTBE – methyl tertiary butyl ether – is a gasoline additive comprising significant portions of California gasoline. It is not used nearly as much in Nevada, but most of the gasoline providers on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe receive their fuel from Sacramento.

The additive is considered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a possible cancer-causing agent.

Because of action taken by California Gov. Gray Davis, two oil companies have agreed to supply MTBE-free gasoline to Lake Tahoe this year. More may follow their examples.

However, Loding said Round Hill is not taking any chances and plans to proceed with its project.

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