Well proposal may be well on its way | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Well proposal may be well on its way

Duane Wallace likened it to a real estate proposal.

What the South Tahoe Public Utility District did last week probably won’t solve all the problems there have been regarding the construction of a new, vitally needed well. However, it “shows in good faith that there’s a document out there on the table,” Wallace, a STPUD board member, said in a discussion with the Forest Service.

Now the Forest Service will consider the draft special use permit, which was written by STPUD, and likely counter with some revisions. If all goes well, a final version might be ready at the utility’s next meeting, March 16.

The water woes of STPUD and the Forest Service came to an antagonistic head in January over the utility’s efforts to get the special use permit. But now it seems that ugly era has passed.

“I personally regret any kind of contention or public fur-flying that happened over this,” Pembroke Gochnauer, vice president of STPUD’s board, told the acting chief of Tahoe’s Forest Service unit. “That’s not the kind of relationship we need to have with you, Ed (Gee, acting forest supervisor), or the Forest Service.”

After the federal agency had a contract dispute with another water provider, STPUD took the Forest Service as a customer last September, providing service for Camp Richardson Resort, the Tallac Historic Site, Visitors Center at Taylor Creek and campground at Fallen Leaf Lake. With mandatory water-usage restrictions last summer and the same likely this year, STPUD couldn’t keep the Forest Service as a permanent customer unless it completed a new well.

Construction on that well started last year on Forest Service land near Camp Richardson. However, STPUD was unable to get a permit to use it and in January stopped all plans to build it.

At the meeting last week, STPUD’s board agreed to expend the next $4,000 on the project. If progress on the special use permit continues, the board likely will approve more work later this month.

Earlier this year when the issue was highly contentious, concerns were expressed that STPUD may have to abandon the well on which it had spent $800,000 and that a water supply wouldn’t be available for the Forest Service’s popular South Shore recreation area this summer.

The Forest Service now is proceeding with plans to drill its own well, which will be smaller than STPUD’s, and agency officials say it should be ready by June.

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