Lake Tahoe resort investigated for dumping pool water
July 27, 2014
A South Lake Tahoe resort is being investigated for dumping an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 gallons of chlorinated pool water into a city stormwater infiltration basin near Lake Tahoe.
Lake Tahoe Vacation Resort, located near Ski Run Marina, is not expected to face any fines or cleanup costs from the city of South Lake Tahoe or the California Regional Water Quality Control Board.
The resort fired several workers for the illicit discharge and has agreed to create a pool drainage management plan to ensure its pool is properly drained in the future, authorities said.
The incident occurred on June 25 and was self-reported by the resort several days later, according to a city official.
"As far as any additional follow-up, I think we're maybe reviewing the matter further, but likely no further action would result given the internal disciplinary action and the management plan and no significant discharge into Lake Tahoe," said Alan Miller, senior water resource control engineer for California Regional Water Quality Control Board.
"It was a fairly sizable amount. The estimate we heard was maybe on order of 15,000 to 20,000 gallons of chlorinated pool water. It's definitely something we would not authorize because of the chlorine, which is toxic to aquatic life. What they did was not proper. At the same time, their remedies may be sufficient."
Lake Tahoe Vacation Resort is part of Diamond Resorts International, a publicly-traded resort chain based in Las Vegas.
"As a company, we understand the sensitive nature of the Lake Tahoe environment," said Benjamin La Luzerne, in-house counsel for Diamond Resorts International. "Therefore we are assisting (Tahoe Regional Planning Agency), the city and other stakeholders in their investigation of the issue. Unfortunately, we had three employees that chose not to follow the standard procedure of draining the pool into the proper drains. We have terminated those employees and are retraining the rest of the staff responsible for maintaining the pool to ensure that it does not happen again."
Jason Burke, stormwater program coordinator for South Lake Tahoe, said municipal code prohibits such illicit discharges into city stormwater systems.
Burke said he saw no evidence of moisture or chlorine-killed plants when he investigated the stormwater infiltration basin several days after the incident, so the situation likely will not result in any city-imposed fines.
"The thing I will credit them with, they did report this themselves, which they are required to do. When I contacted them they said it was some maintenance people who did this and that they have been disciplined," Burke said.
The infiltration basin is located along a bike path through the area. The basin is considered a stream environment zone by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, so the incident was also referred to that agency for investigation, Burke said.
Julie Regan, chief of external affairs for TRPA, said the Water Quality Control Board is usually the lead agency in such incidents, but that TRPA staffers are continuing to investigate the incident to make sure there was no damage to the stream environment zone.