Utility district to clear the air | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Utility district to clear the air

Emily Aughinbaugh

The South Shore’s wastewater plant will give residents a breath of fresh air next year.

The South Tahoe Public Utility District has budgeted $1 million to control the odor that rises from the district’s two waste holding tanks.

The district has fielded complaints about the plant’s sulfur-like smell for years from people who live downwind from Black Bart Avenue.

“Sometimes when we have visitors they can smell it and I say, ‘It’s not my house,'” said Evelyn Schumaker, who’s lived in a subdivision off Al Tahoe Boulevard since 1995. “I can mainly smell it in the morning when I’m driving down Al Tahoe or when I go to the park. I think it’s great they’re covering the tanks.”

The Lake Tahoe Community College Student Council has had the biggest grievance with the stench.

On cold, still winter days, students can get a real whiff of the plant said Dennis Cocking, STPUD information officer. Cocking said the district wasn’t required by law to reduce the smell, but wanted to be a good neighbor.

“We could have taken the stance that we were there first and didn’t have to do anything about the smell. We basically begged people not to build there,” Cocking said. “It’s a wastewater treatment plant. It’s going to smell. But we’ve been responding to the community college complaints.”

Cocking said the district cut down on some of the odor by mildly chlorinating the water. However, he said the $800,000 the district budgeted for two lids to cover the tank will help to cut down on the smell by 80 percent.

That’s good news to school officials.

“The sewer district was very responsive to the students,” said Roberta Mason, LTCC board member. “I was very pleased with the way the students handled the situation. They proceeded very appropriately in checking out the situation and meeting with the sewer district. It’s such an educational endeavor for the students to discover that you can make a difference.”

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.