Stateline casinos, travelers make best of water woes |

Stateline casinos, travelers make best of water woes

William Ferchland, Nevada Appeal News Service

STATELINE — Because they are from Florida, where advisories on drinking tap water come often, Bob and Michelle Johnson were not inconvenienced by a similar boil-water advisory along casino row at Lake Tahoe.

“It’s healthier drinking bottled water than tap water, so if we get it for free, why not?” Michelle Johnson said.

The casino corridor, Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course and a few homes were hit with the boil-water order after a computer problem at Edgewood Water District failed to provide the first stage of treatment.

The state requires two tests before the water-boil order can be lifted. On Thursday the test came back absent of coliform, a bacteria.

Results of a second test are due today.

Steve Seibel, manager at the water district, said an investigation into the computer glitch is under way.

Since the computer is internal and not online, he said there isn’t a chance of a hacker or virus being the cause.

“What we’re trying to do is narrow down where the situation is,” he said. “It could be as small as a connection or a program area.”

One pump from Lake Tahoe to 11 customers keeps 2.3 million gallons of water circulating through the facility. Seibel guessed less than 10 percent of water was not being treated by ozone, the first stage of water treatment.

The problem occurred sometime between 1:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.

At the casinos, most restaurants reverted to paper plates and plastic forks as dishwasher use was off-limits. Drinking fountains were shut off. Bottled water was given to guests in their rooms, in the lobby and at restaurants.

Damon and Niki Stirling of San Luis Obispo, Calif., ate breakfast at a Harrah’s Lake Tahoe on Thursday. Both were good-humored about the situation.

“You get a $50 bill from eating off plastic plates,” Damon joked.

Harrah’s closed two restaurants Wednesday night — the Sage Room and Al Vaquero — to focus on other dining areas, said casino spokesman John Packer.

Harrah’s, which owns Harveys Resort and Casino and Bill’s Lake Tahoe Casino, ordered items in quantities that would make Costco shiver.

The order included 70,000 pounds of ice, nearly 100,000 bottles of 12-ounce water, 15,264 bottles of juice and 55,000 foam plates. Jugs holding a gallon of water or more were used for food preparation and plate cleaning. Four restaurants continued using china, Packer said.

At Caesars Tahoe, plates were used at three of the casino’s restaurants. The china was shipped to Caesar’s sister casino, the Reno Hilton, for washing.

Officials said a similar water-boil ban occurred in 1997 after the New Year’s flood. A high snowpack melted by a warm front flooded Stateline, causing drinking water problems.