South Lake exchanges fine for mapping work |

South Lake exchanges fine for mapping work

Environmental work will replace a $10,000 fine levied against the city of South Lake Tahoe for a water quality violation at the Lake Tahoe Airport.

The violation occurred last November when Tom Haen Construction, a local contracting company, accidentally connected the kitchen wastewater line from the Tailspin restaurant to a stormwater pipe that drains into the Upper Truckee River. Haen had been hired by the city to install a grease trap.

Airport Manager Rick Jenkins said it was an honest and easily made mistake.

“It was an unavoidable circumstance,” Jenkins said. “They had to jack-hammer into the ground until they found the pipe and it was the right size and the right color and we didn’t have any plans.”

The blunder went unnoticed for six months as water from the restaurant’s kitchen sink, floor drain and dishwasher was being fed into Tahoe’s largest tributary.

Lauri Kemper, of the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, estimated that 2,460 gallons flowed through the pipe but about 1,000 gallons were retained by the grease interceptor.

Lahontan, as the area’s water quality regulator, fined the city $10,000 for the violation.

The city’s hearing for the fine, which was scheduled for this month’s Lahontan board meeting in South Lake Tahoe, was waived when an agreement was reached by both parties on mitigation work.

Jenkins said, in lieu of the $10,000 fine, the city will pay for topographical survey work along the Upper Truckee River between the Elks Club bridge and U.S. Highway 50 in South Lake Tahoe.

The data collected in the survey will be the first stage of stream zone restoration work slated by other agencies, such as the California Tahoe Conservancy.

Kemper said the city will have to show the project’s accounting receipts by November 2001, which is also the deadline for the work to be completed.

“If it ends up costing less than the $10,000 then the city will have to pay the difference,” Kemper added.

Jenkins was not sure how much the survey work is expected to cost.

“This should be a good project for the basin,” he said. “I think everyone is happy with it.”

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