Utility district wins appeal for disaster funds | TahoeDailyTribune.com
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Utility district wins appeal for disaster funds

Patrick McCartney

The South Tahoe Public Utility District received a $1.3 million stocking-stuffer a week before Christmas, when it learned it will receive federal disaster assistance after all.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency initially rejected the district’s application for funds for emergency and restoration work following the New Year’s Day flood of 1997. Flooding wiped out sewer lines downstream of the U.S. Highway 50 bridge and Lodi Street, and caused infiltration of storm water into the district’s sewer collection system.

Last week, however, Ray Williams, FEMA’s acting regional director, sent a letter to the South Tahoe utility, saying the federal agency had reversed its findings.

“The action taken was the only reasonable alternative to lessen or eliminate the immediate threat” to the Upper Truckee River, Williams noted in the letter.

District officials said in the beginning FEMA inspectors had not recognized the unique environmental standards appropriate to the Tahoe Basin.

“The initial reviews by FEMA inspectors failed to acknowledge the extreme sensitivity of Tahoe’s stream environment zones,” said Bob Baer, the district’s general manager. He also thanked U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who assisted the district in its appeal.

Boxer also expressed pleasure at FEMA’s decision to approve the district’s appeal.

“I’m so pleased that I was able to work with the South Lake Tahoe Public Utility District and FEMA to resolve this important matter,” Boxer said. “This decision acknowledges the unique environmental circumstances that exist at Lake Tahoe, and provides much-needed funds for the district’s pump station.”


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