Sewage line backs up, sends spill into Tahoe Keys channel |

Sewage line backs up, sends spill into Tahoe Keys channel

Gregory Crofton

A ball of tree roots backed up a sewer line in the Tahoe Keys on Thursday afternoon sending 50 to 100 gallons of sewage into a channel that empties into Lake Tahoe.

The sewage backup was discovered by South Tahoe Public Utility District employees out doing routine maintenance around 2:45 p.m. near Ala Wai Drive.

The sewage emptied into a storm drain that flows into the channel, which serves as the entrance to Tahoe Keys Marina. No sewage backed up into any homes in the area.

“We caught it early,” said Dennis Cocking, district information officer. “We have spilled into the (Tahoe Keys) lagoon before over the years. There is a little more of a buffer than if it went into the lake itself, but it becomes more serious any time it enters into a waterway.”

Smaller spills into waterways do not get treated with chlorine like a spill on land would.

“We don’t want to chlorinate that area; it could affect the fish,” said Ginger Huber, Tahoe division manager of the El Dorado County Department of Environmental Management.

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Huber said it will take about two days for water in the channel to dilute the sewage to a level that is safe for the public. Officials are asking that people stay out of the area, which is marked, through the weekend.

– Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at