Utility district fined for sewage spill into Lake Tahoe

Water-quality regulators at Lake Tahoe have fined a local utility district nearly $240,000 for allowing untreated sewage and storm water to flow into the lake in December 2010 during a power failure.

The Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board said the North Tahoe Public Utility District was penalized because of the “the potential harm of the spill on public health and Lake Tahoe’s extraordinary clarity.”

The administrative penalty was $239,081, the water board said in a press release. The order can be found here.

The NTPUD spent approximately $400,000 to upgrade the backup power system at its Dollar Hill Pump Station.  Due to a number of factors, the backup power system failed to operate properly during an electrical power failure, resulting in the spill of approximately 129,500 gallons of untreated sewage and storm water into Lake Tahoe, the water board said. 

According to the water board, the NTPUD earlier raised questions about the contractors that designed and installed the backup power system in June 2010. 

However, the board found that NTPUD was “ultimately responsible for the proper operation and maintenance of the pump station and for the actions of its contractors it hires, and therefore, solely subject to the liability.”

The Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board is a State of California office within the State Water Resources Control Board, an agency of the California Environmental Protection Agency.


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