Monday, August 7, 2017

Alpine County Grand Jury: Get more money and new agreement from STPUD

The Alpine County Grand Jury has released their 2016-17 report and in it they are recommending the County improve their relationship with South Tahoe Public Utility District (STPUD) and work out a new financial deal with the South Lake Tahoe based water provider.
In 1983, STPUD starting paying Alpine County $100,000 a year for their accepting the South Shore wastewater, a sum that has grown to $113,900 due to new hookups. They Jury recommends that figure be adjusted due to inflation which would be $248,000 in 2017. The 1995 Grand Jury recommended the same thing but it was never acted upon.
At the beginning of the agreed payments there was nothing directing County Supervisors on where these funds would be placed and how they'd be spent. In 2010, they voted to use the collected funds to finance rebuilding the county offices.
The Jury also says a November, 2002 agreement between the County and STPUD was not valid as only two board members voted to approve it. At the time there was one vacant seat, one member abstained from the vote and another was absent. A vote of 2-0 was not a majority vote and the Jury wrote in their findings that there should be a re-vote and the agreement should be reconsidered after holding public hearings.
Since 1968 the treated effluent from South Lake Tahoe has traveled over Luther Pass into Alpine County, first to Indian Creek Reservoir, and then, since 1989, to Harvey Place Reservoir, both of which were created to store the treated wastewater from the south end of the lake.
Once in the reservoir, the nutrient rich water is stored until Spring when a system of canals and pipelines deliver the irrigation water to ranches downstream.
The Grand Jury also found that the County was to receive $15,000 annually to test the groundwater in the dispersal area. Alpine County stopped testing in 2009 and once the testing account reached $60,000, STPUD stopped paying into it according to the Grand Jury. They recommend the County resume groundwater testing for a variety of chemicals, pharmaceutical and personal care products, and hormones.
As part of the original agreement, STPUD buys 15,000 pounds of fish to plant annually in Alpine County waterways. The Jury wants this to continue or convert it to the cash value of the fish adjusted for inflation.
At the conclusion of their report the Alpine Grand Jury recommends that the partnership between the County and STPUD continue as they "negotiate to improve the agreement." The Jury stated they liked the North Shore process of actually using a treatment plant for processing before being released into open environment.
Calls into STPUD for comment were not returned.
The transfer of effluent was mandated by the Porter-Cologne Act which said all wasterwater generated in the Lake Tahoe Basin had to be pumped out of the Basin and not be released in the open environment anywhere in the Lake Tahoe watershed. From the North Shore and West Shore, the effluent is sent to Truckee, from Nevada side communities to Douglas County in the valley.
August 4, 2017
South Tahoe Now
By Paula Peterson

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