Sewage Spill in South Lake Tahoe - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Sewage Spill in South Lake Tahoe

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Health officials are testing the water behind a restaurant in the Tahoe Keys Marina where a sewage spill happened over the weekend.

Officials say they are still determining whether or not any of that sewage made its way into Lake Tahoe.

The sewage leak happened right behind "The Fresh Ketch" restaurant, when a pipe right underneath overflowed, sending some of the sewage leaking out, puddling on the sidewalk. But the fear is that some of it may have crossed the sidewalk and possibly fallen into the lake.

"We actually have a cap on here that was removed purposely."

Staff at the Tahoe Keys Marina say they think someone intentionally clogged the restaurant's sewage pipe causing a backflow of waste on Friday and Saturday. "We didn't even find out until 24 hours later when the health department actually showed up here. So, the people that went ahead and made the reports, they didn't let any of the upper management know, they didn't let any of the Fresh Ketch staff know that it was even going on."

A plumbing company was called immediately and the problem was fixed in about an hour and a half. "They deemed it as just a clog and they pulled out multiple trash bags. They just kept pulling out trash bags," says front desk supervisor Chad Holdren.

Holdren says the bags were put in the pipe by someone on purpose - and he thinks he knows who is responsible. But what's most important to him is keeping the lake clean. "I was born and raised here. I consider this lake home, that's why I haven't left yet. So if anything was getting into the lake, I know for a fact we would have been right on top of it."

It's reported that up to 15 gallons of sewage spilled but Holdren says it was only a few quarts. Regardless, the concern now turns to the impact it may have on the lake. "Raw sewage is harmful to humans in terms of public health issues because it could contain pathogens or other bacteria that can cause illness," says Laurie Kemper, Lahontan Water Board.

Algae also feeds on it affecting the lake's clarity. Samples taken Monday show slightly elevated concentrations of fecal coliform bacteria ranging from 12 to 54 colony forming units per 100 milliliters. The Lahontan Water Board's standard of quality cannot exceed 20 units. Last summer, tests in the same area tested below 20. By comparison, the national standard for swimming is 200. "We also took another round of samples, today. We'll continue to sample until the levels of bacteria have reached what is considered natural for this area."

Tests taken May 6 show concentrations are going down except for where the area closest to the discharge - it's 288 units per 100 milliliters.

While the leak happened for about 24 hours, it wasn't actually leaking that whole time because the restaurant was closed for part of that time. It also happened during a time of the year when a lot of people aren't using the marina for things like kayaking and paddle boarding.

Written by Paul Nelson

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