Emergency Meeting to Discuss Future Fireworks Show in Tahoe - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Emergency Meeting to Discuss Future Fireworks Show in Tahoe

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Fireworks shows in Lake Tahoe could be in jeopardy due to a lawsuit claiming last year's show polluted the water.

The Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority (LTVA) held an emergency meeting Thursday so community members could voice their opinion on the issue.

In the end, officials decided that if the lawsuit is not dropped by April 4th, the LTVA would drop its sponsorship of the fireworks show on south shore.

You can tell the crowd was upset with the announcement.

"I'm devastated," said Karen Beebe-Saunders, a Lake Tahoe resident. "I'm scared. I don't know what's going to happen."

You may remember Joe and Joan Truxler of Zephyr Cove filed a lawsuit back in November against the LTVA and Pyro Spectaculars North (of California), who shot off the fireworks.

The Truxlers claim debris from last year's 4th of July show polluted the lake known for its exceptionally-clear waters. Specifically, they claim the defendants violated the Clean Water Act due to not getting a special permit for the fireworks.

We talked to Joe Truxler in a phone interview after the meeting. He says he couldn't get too much into the details of the case, but we asked him what the purpose was of the lawsuit.

"Maintain the lake's purity and keep it clean," he said. "I think that's number one. We don't have anything else to gain out of this."

But, the LTVA and others at the meeting disagree about the pollution.

"We checked every regulatory group around the lake, including those who deal with the clean water," said Patrick Ronan, Chairman of the Board with LTVA. "They say we don't need a permit, but these people are allowed by law to sue individually."

The lawsuit could mean up to $70 million in penalties, which is something LTVA is not willing to risk.

"We cannot accept that liability," Ronan said. "Even though, of course, we'd think we'd win in court, but what if we didn't? What if it goes up two or three levels of courts, as everybody appeals. We'll go broke just paying lawyer's fees. So, it's better for us to do what we did, which is give the Truxlers another five or six days to either pull the lawsuit or come to an agreement. Otherwise, we're out of the fireworks business. It'll kill us as an agency that's designed just to create and support events and bring more customers into town."

Many talked about how it would be devastating for their business.

"The opinions we heard from small businesses through to the large ones," said Stuart Maas with TahoeSports.com. "This cannot continue as it's going."

"We've had a really bad winter this year," Beebe-Saunders said. "There's a lot of things that have happened, and we really need that burst of economy that the fireworks displays bring us."

Truxler says he and his wife understand the economic impact this lawsuit would bring, and wants to bring a resolution. He says he also wants to be clear they don't want the fireworks show to end.

"I think it would be a crime to not have the fireworks show because so many people are dependent on it," Truxler said.

A large number of people said at the meeting they'd do whatever it takes to keep the fireworks show in South Lake Tahoe. Many said they'd be willing to join in the cleanup effort.

Truxler says they're willing to work with everyone involved in the suit.

"The three people have to come to an agreement," he said. "I consider myself somewhat of a flexible person. So, we're willing to do what it takes, but also have our principle that we want to protect the lake."

We also asked him what he wants to say to those who are opposed to their views and the lawsuit.

"I understand people being mad at us and objecting to what we're saying, what we're doing," he said. "But, what I want to say is they don't know all the facts in what was really going on.  There's two sides to every story. We have our side. They have their side, and somewhere in between, hopefully, we'll meet. Then, we'll solve this in the next seven days."

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