Utility may destroy two wells | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Utility may destroy two wells

Andy Bourelle

With 10 of South Tahoe Public Utility District’s 34 wells shut down because of the threat of MTBE, the district’s board of directors Thursday will consider drilling a new well and destroying two contaminated wells.

STPUD staff is recommending to destroy the district’s Arrowhead wells Nos. 1 and 2, which allegedly are contaminated from a gasoline leak at the Meyers Beacon station. Staff also is recommending a new well be drilled at the same location. An aquifer that has not been contaminated exists lower than the aquifer used by the current wells.

A 30-foot-thick aquitard – an impervious layer – lies between the contamination and the potential aquifer for the new well, protecting the water from the MTBE.

The lost water supply from the destruction of both wells likely will be recovered from the new well, according to STPUD.

The plan could be completed by Oct. 15 and may cost $250,000. However, STPUD may be able to receive reimbursement for the project from a California drinking water emergency response fund.

MTBE – methyl tertiary butyl ether – is a gasoline additive used to help reduce air pollution. However, when MTBE gets into water, its presence can be harmful.

Consumption of MTBE causes no known health problems. Research is ongoing, and there is some evidence MTBE could be a cancer-causing agent. MTBE-contaminated water smells and tastes like turpentine.

Besides the Arrowhead wells, only one other well specifically has been contaminated by MTBE. The seven shut-down wells were closed as precautionary measures because MTBE traces detected near the wells.

STPUD serves about 13,000 customers. Water-usage restrictions have been in place since the end of July.

What: Regular meeting of South Tahoe Public Utility District

Where: City Council Chambers

When: Aug. 20, 1 p.m.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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