SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif .– Not being outdone by 2020, 2021 fires delivered,
evacuations, no more COVIDs, big winter storms and power outages. And once again our tough little mountain town came together to overcome and keep going. The South Tahoe Public Utility District was proud to play an important role in addressing these great challenges and consistently providing safe and clean services.
clean water, plenty of water for firefighting, and reliable sanitation services to protect our precious environment. As we turn the page 2021, I would like to share four highlights and an overview of your Water and Sewer District.
1. Preparation and response in case of fire – When the Caldor fire entered the Tahoe Basin, our water supply system played a vital role in the firefighting efforts. When the entire community was evacuated, district staff worked tirelessly to fix the leaks, keep the wells pumped and the water tanks full. We have worked closely with firefighters throughout the fire, restocking and restoration efforts to make sure you come home with clean drinking water and a fully functioning sanitation system. In recent years, the district has invested in high capacity wells and booster stations, oversized water pipes, additional fire hydrants and water system monitoring technology which have optimized our response capabilities. against fires and protected our community. Not to be overlooked, the Tamarack fire also presented challenges as it burned 650 acres at our recycle water facility in Alpine County. With significant contingency planning and timely investments, your water and sewer personnel have been able to overcome these challenges through hard work, commitment, community partnership and maybe a little help from luck.
2. Collaboration – Throughout the year, we continued to work with community partners to address some of the biggest challenges our community faces. Our board of directors updated district policies and launched a program to help reduce the costs of building affordable housing. In collaboration with the California Tahoe Conservancy and the US Forest Service, we secured grant funds to plan and implement the reduction of hazardous fuels at the 80 field stations by the end of 2022. In partnership with the City of South Lake Tahoe, we are using COVID-19 grant funds to install 37 additional fire hydrants across the city over the next 2 years. These efforts help protect our community from forest fires. We are actively working with TRPA, League to Save Lake Tahoe, Tahoe Resource Conservation District, Regional River Basin Districts, Lake Valley Fire and other regional fire agencies to advocate and secure additional funding for essential firefighting infrastructure.
3. Water conservation – In a time of prolonged drought, this year we have put forward the mantra of working smarter, not harder, to conserve our most precious natural resource, water. Using satellite leak detection, we identified and fixed 22 leaks in our water distribution system, saving 66 million gallons of water this year alone. We used remote meter data to alert 4,276 customers of water leaks and provided discounts and conservation services to save an additional 28 million gallons. These programs are available at stpud.us. We look forward to a great winter to help fill our lake, streams and water tables, and plenty of snow for winter revelers.
4. Proactive planning – This year, we broadened our data-driven approach to assess the state of our system assets. With 600 miles of water / sewer lines, over 80 field stations and a 7.7 million gallon per day sewage treatment plant, it is essential that we prioritize repair and replacing these aging assets valued at nearly $ 2 billion. We inspected the condition of 1,900 standpipes, 200 water and sewer lines crossing streams, 17 miles of sewage main, and the plant’s electrical, structural and underground piping. sewage treatment plant and field facilities. These assessments are the building blocks of future planning and allow us to prioritize investments to make timely and profitable decisions and avoid costly emergencies.
With a few crazy years in the mirror, we look to 2022 with immense optimism. We have more water pipes and hydrants projects coming up for greater fire flow on a community scale. We will begin the rehabilitation and modernization of our largest sewage pumping stations and critical sewage treatment plant components to protect our sensitive environment from sewer spills. And we will develop a new strategic plan for recycled water – examining innovation and new technologies to better meet the needs of our community. As the cheapest water and sewage supplier in the Tahoe Basin, we continue to actively seek grants with over $ 7.4 million in grant applications already underway for capital improvement projects. , drought preparedness, energy efficiency and natural disaster preparedness.
We have a large and complex system for such a small town. Operation, maintenance and financing of repairs and replacements continues to be a daunting challenge. More than ever, we’re looking for better ways to deliver clean, reliable, and cost-effective water, wastewater and recycled water services to you, your family, and our beautiful environment.
On behalf of the District staff and our Board of Directors, we wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous year 2022.
John Thiel, Managing Director