Tahoe utility district eyes water company takeover | SierraSun.com

Tahoe utility district eyes water company takeover

Jenny Goldsmith
Sierra Sun

Plans for Lake Forest water users to fall into the hands of the Tahoe City Public Utility District are moving forward, with cost estimates and preliminary designs to be unveiled today.

Since January, assessment engineers and water system appraisers have been preparing reports to evaluate the possible replacement of most, if not all, of the Lake Forest Water Company’s infrastructure.

The private water company that serves the Lake Forest area began undergoing scrutiny in 2007 regarding water quality and supply concerns.

“We’ve done a draft analysis of the improvement system to bring the water quality up to standards, and an analysis of the cost,” said Wally Auerbach, a Lake Forest resident and the engineer hired by the public utility to do the assessment.

The Tahoe City Public Utility District will hold a special meeting today to discuss the Lake Forest Improvement District, receive public input and present the board with the appraisal and engineer reports, said Alan Harry, administrator of planning and public works.

“We want to make sure that residents and business owners in the Lake Forest area that voted to be part of the Lake Forest Improvement District be there to continue to be up to speed on the process currently underway, the progress we’ve made and to provide the board with their input,” Harry said. “We’re looking for board direction as it pertains to the next step.”

Meanwhile, plans made by the private entity’s operator to fix the water system failed after the state bypassed the company for a $420,000 grant, said operator Rick Dewante.

The funds would have subsidized digging a new well, replacing water lines, adding fire hydrants and introducing water meters, but after a group of Lake Forest Improvement District advocates expressed opposition to the project, the transfer was terminated, Dewante said.

Now that the district has finished assessing the private company’s value, an offer may be made to Dewante, but until then, the private operator said he plans to continue business as usual.

“I still plan to get the grant again and spend the grant money on improving the system,” Dewante said. “It all depends on what they do really. If they want to take over by eminent domain, then that is what will happen.”