“Our members provide water service to all manner of users, rate payers, tax payers and visitors to Lake Tahoe. We are dedicated to the protection of Lake Tahoe’s pristine water quality and healthy ecosystem. We also appreciate recreational boating and water-based sports in the world-renown destination resort region. We recognize that the growth of invasive plants and weeds is a serious problem. Prompted by the exponential growth of invasive weeds, federal and state water quality regulators have lifted a previous prohibition against the use of aquatic herbicides in the waters of Lake Tahoe as one of the control strategies for invasive weeds. The chemicals proposed for use have been tested and used primarily in lower quality waters. TWSA believes Lake Tahoe’s special status as a Tier 3 Outstanding National Resource Water (ONRW) warrants a priority focus on non-chemical methods before the use of chemical herbicides is considered. TWSA also urges the IWMP to include a more detailed analysis of the potential impacts of herbicides on drinking water supply.
TWSA members share concerns about the potential impact of herbicides on our water intake systems and quality of the water we provide to our customers. Tahoe’s municipal water treatments systems are not specifically designed to remove chemical contaminants. Six TWSA members hold “filtration exemption” status from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). This is a rare status, usually granted only to a “non-contact” watershed. It has been granted based on the fact that Tahoe “tap water” is some of the cleanest and purest drinking water in the world. The treatment process of ultra-violet and ozone disinfection used by members with “filtration exemption” status is designed for the deactivation of potential biological contaminants, not chemicals. Their effectiveness and efficiency at removing chemical compounds is unknown. In addition to TWSA members, a number of water systems owned by private companies and individuals also draw water from Lake Tahoe. If chemical contaminants begin to be detected near Lake Tahoe water intakes, our ratepayers and the owners of small private water systems may face costly infrastructure upgrades.”
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