Water companies discuss contaminated wells in South Lake Tahoe
While a toxic plume spreading through groundwater has forced the shuttering of some wells in South Lake Tahoe, customers do not need to worry if their water is safe to drink, according to local water providers.
On Wednesday, Feb. 7, South Tahoe Public Utility District, Lukins Brothers Water Company and Tahoe Keys Property Owners Association presented the public with information regarding the groundwater contaminant tetrachloroethylene (PCE) that has impacted 400 acres near the “Y” in South Lake Tahoe.
As the Tribune previously reported, a toxic plume containing PCE has forced the closure of a number of water wells on the South Shore since the discovery of the contaminant in 1989.
Today there are five wells in which PCE has been found: three belong to LBWC and two to the Tahoe Keys.
LBWC first detected amounts of PCE over the maximum contaminant level (MCL) in 2014, and began a preliminary engineering report for water system improvements involving a granular activated carbon (GAC) filtration system in May 2015. Last July the organization was awarded a planning grant, and it is anticipating construction on the GAC facility in 2018-19.
The Tahoe Keys detected amounts of PCE above the MCL in one of its wells in 2009. In 2016, the association discovered PCE in another one of its wells, but it has not reached the MCL — if the value exceeds the MCL, the well will be required to shut down. Last year the Tahoe Keys hired an engineering consultant to compile a facilities plan that will address the PCE contamination and assess alternative methods of delivering reliable water sources to the community.
Each of the wells contaminated with PCE above the maximum contaminant level no longer provides water to the community, and the participating agencies assured the public that all water servicing South Shore meets drinking water standards, meaning it is safe and clean for both drinking and bathing — LBWC has tapped into the STPUD water supply and Tahoe Keys has operational wells remaining.
According to STPUD general manager Richard Solbrig, next steps include completing a pre-design investigation (which would involve test well drilling), conducting groundwater modeling, beginning a feasibility study and hosting a public workshop (likely in June).
For more information, visit http://www.stpud.us/groundwater.