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Contaminated Groundwater Wells Close In South Lake Tahoe


Correction: 2:20 PM, Nov. 14 - The contanimant PCE was referred to as PCBE in the original story.

Because of the drought, three wells in South Lake Tahoe have higher levels of contamination. Some wells have been shut-downs and the state of California is investigating. 

In a drought there is less groundwater to dilute contaminants. In South Lake Tahoe, that’s been a problem at three wells. The Lahontan Water Quality Control Board says two of the wells about a half mile west of Lake Tahoe have registered a known carcinogen at nine times allowable levels. The wells were shut down, leaving barely enough water for 950 homes. The California Water Resources Control Board has approved $69,000 to determine the contamination source.

Lahontan Board Geologist Lisa Dernbach says the contaminant PCE is usually associated with dry cleaning.

“But in this part of the town there are no current or recent dry cleaning business so we are suspecting it might be related to an engine repair facility.”

Dembach says the source should be confirmed by mid-winter. Near Stateline the drought has resulted in contamination of a well with MTBE from a gas station. The station owner is purchasing bottled water for the motel that depends on the well.

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