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Tahoe City PUD considers new water policies

Joanna Hartman
Sierra Sun

Spurred by recent outcry from dissatisfied customers of private water systems in Lake Forest and on the West Shore, the Tahoe City Public Utility District is looking at rules for working with private water companies located within district boundaries.

Following a public workshop in February, district board members directed staff to set policies for taking over or buying private water systems and policies for selling water to the same companies. Sewer and water committee board members and staff met Thursday morning to discuss staff’s proposed policies.

District board members have not yet voted to set any procedures, but will hold another workshop Tuesday for public discussion.

Lake Forest, Tahoe Park and Skyland Nielson water systems, all operated by Rick Dewante, are under scrutiny for water quality and supply issues.

Lake Forest Water Company uses unfiltered lake water; Tahoe Park has no alternative emergency supply and Skyland Nielson has copper infiltration problems.

Dewante has requested to connect Lake Forest to the district’s groundwater system. And residents in all three systems have asked the district to consider taking over their water providers.

The district is reviewing policies for taking over private water companies within the district from both willing and unwilling sellers.

When initiated by its owner, the procedure to buy the private water company is the same as what the board adopted in 1988, said district manager Bob Lourey.

But when customers approach the district requesting their water system be taken over, a different procedure may follow.

Lourey said this needs to be discussed further.

“We’re not pushing for this to be adopted next Tuesday,” Lourey said at the meeting. “It’s a work in progress.”

A policy specifying the level of public interest necessary for the district to consider taking over a water system still needs to be established, board director Erik Henrikson said.

The district is also reviewing how to proceed when a water company is interested in purchasing water from the district. Policy will include an evaluation of the system, estimated costs for engineering studies, connection fees and service charges, and a study to determine water availability.

Seven years ago the Truckee Donner Public Utility District faced similar challenges when they were asked by homeowners to take over Glenshire Mutual Water Company and Donner Lake Water. Both had water quality issues, but the former was a willing seller and the latter was taken by condemnation.

“It really is quite a process to go through,” said Truckee Donner Public Utility District water utilities manager Ed Taylor. “It’s much more difficult than people think.”


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