Upgrades are needed to provide water to convention center | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Upgrades are needed to provide water to convention center

Susan Wood
Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily Tribune / South Lake Tahoe Fire Marshal Ray Zachau talks about water flow issues in the convention center area Tuesday.

Before the $410 million South Lake Tahoe convention center complex is built along Highway 50 near Stateline, some concessions would need to be in place to handle the prospect of a major fire.

The level of water flow necessary to fight a fire – which ranges from 5,000 to 7,000 gallons a minute – needs upgrading in the area that spans from Highway 50 to Cedar, Friday and Stateline avenues, city Fire Marshal Ray Zachau warned.

Groundbreaking is scheduled for May 2007 for the six-story project, which includes a 93,000-square-foot convention center, two condominium hotels with 176 units, 57,000 square feet of retail space, a greenbelt with pond and walking paths, and a 500-space parking structure.

The Lakeside Park Water District provides water to the 12-acre area, but does not have the adequate pumps and auxiliary equipment to handle a commercial project of this magnitude.

“Lakeside has its challenges when it comes to fireflows. This project is so big and access so limited that we have to look at other engineering solutions. We’re committed to make it work,” Zachau said Tuesday, while standing next to a fire hydrant on La Salle Street and Manzanita Drive. The hydrant’s capacity is a mid-range capacity of 750 gallons. The hydrants and adjoined signs are marked in colors signaling waterflow capacity. Blue is on the high end of 1,500 gallons or more, while red falls below 500.

The city fire department is also trying to budget for another fire ladder truck, which could cost between $500,000 and $800,000. Its current ladder truck is 21 years old and needs more of a ladder reach. State-of-the-art alarm and sprinkler systems are also recommendations from city fire. They’ll also need to conduct training above the four-story level.

“Much of what’s needed with a project like this is pre-incident training,” Zachau said.

To help with the effort, the project calls for concrete-based building.

As for fireflows – the city’s large water purveyor, South Tahoe Public Utility District, has pledged to form a partnership with the small water company and expects to bring a proposal to its board.

In the last few years, STPUD has upgraded its main line down Highway 50 from a 6-inch to 14-inch pipe. In the section near Stateline, the line crossed the highway and stubbed off to the future project site.

“They can meet domestic flows but don’t have the (amount) for fireflows,” STPUD spokesman Dennis Cocking said. He suggested the district may propose handling the water capacity for the convention center, the larger hotel and fireflows to the smaller hotel. For the latter, STPUD would need to do a special, first-of-its-kind rate study.

“This rate would be developed so ratepayers don’t have to absorb the higher cost,” he said.

Cocking recommended Lakeside may manage the domestic side that may include service to condo owners.

Negotiations are very preliminary, said Bruce Grego, park water board member and attorney.

“LPA would like to have a role in providing water for project 3,” Grego said.

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