Supes approve team effort to rid basin of MTBE
El Dorado County Board of Supervisors gave formal approval on Tuesday to a cooperative agreement that would seek to ban the gas additive MTBE in the county.
Fifth District Supervisor Dave Solaro introduced the item on Tuesday’s agenda at the Board of Supervisors weekly meeting. The county will form an alliance with the city of South Lake Tahoe and the South Tahoe Public Utility District to protect the county water supply from contamination by MTBE.
“The idea is to create some mechanism to ban MTBE on a countywide basis,” said Solaro, who represents South Lake Tahoe and the West Shore communities of Tahoma, Meeks Bay and Rubicon.
“This is an area of concern for everyone in the Tahoe Basin,” Solaro said. “I think that all the agencies working together can get something done.”
On Friday, an MTBE community dialogue was conducted at the South Lake Tahoe City Council Chambers, in which the cooperative agreement was drafted. Providing input at the meeting were representatives from state, county and city agencies, including STPUD, the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, the State Energy Commission, El Dorado County and the city of South Lake Tahoe.
“I’m enthused with our progress,” said STPUD Information Officer Dawn Forsythe. “The state agencies are working hard to assist us. We’re now getting the attention we deserve on the federal, state and local level.”
While the county does not have the actual power to prevent gas stations from dispensing fuel with MTBE, officials hope that they can make enough noise so that some action will be taken.
Gov. Davis has already mandated that MTBE be eliminated within 3 1/2 years, and has indicated that the timetable should be moved up in the Tahoe Basin, where the problem is more acute.
The Chevron, Shell and Tosco chains have announced that they will stop dispensing MTBE-laden fuel in the basin within the next two months.
“But the branded stations represent only 44 percent of our gasoline supply,” said Forsythe. “It’s a positive step, but we need more.”
The MTBE problem is not Tahoe’s alone, said First District Supervisor Sam Bradley.
“We’re now starting to pick up traces of MTBE in Placerville,” Bradley said. “There’s not enough being done, soon enough, in my opinion.”
Tuesday’s meeting was held at Tahoe Paradise Park, near Meyers – which served as the Board of Supervisor’s annual trek to the Tahoe Basin.
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