The South Tahoe Public Utility District, a public agency established on September 28, 1950, (pursuant to Section 9 of "The Public Utility District Act") supplies drinking water and provides sewage collection, treatment, and export to protect Tahoe's delicate ecosystem. Managing this complex operation requires an uncommon environmental sensitivity.

Our Vision

Maintain a dynamic organization that can quickly and proactively meet an ever increasing environment of regulations and scarce resources.

Our Mission

Furnish our customers with reliable water and wastewater services, and provide those services safely, efficiently, and cost effectively.

Strategic Goals

  • Provide exemplary customer service.
  • Provide reliable and safe water distribution, wastewater collection and treatment, and recycled water land application systems.
  • Foster a culture of efficient water use in our community, and promote public awareness of all District activities and the value of District services.
  • Develop staff to ensure professionalism and continuity of organizational knowledge.
  • Continue to be outstanding financial stewards.
  • Provide a safe and harmonious work environment for our employees.
  • Maximize appropriate use of technology to improve operational efficiency and prioritize asset replacement.

District Celebrates 70th Anniversary (Sept 2020)

History of the District

1949 – Discovery of night pumping of septic tanks into Lake Tahoe prompts need for sewer district

1950 - Official vote determining formation of the District (79 yes, 14 no)

1951 –$265,000 bond election to build rudimentary wastewater treatment plant (passed 89 to 9).

1952 – Obtained 1275 Meadow Crest Drive

1956 – Plant construction completed (50,000 GPD capacity), all facilities totaled $396,487

1960 – New wastewater treatment plant placed into operation (2.5 MGD)

1961 – Department of Health warns that current methods of sewage treatment are adequate only temporarily

1962 –Lahontan adopts Resolution 58-1 which prohibits direct discharge of domestic sewage, treated or untreated, into Lake Tahoe

1963 – Governors Brown and Sawyer sign “Governors Edict” advocating export of wastewater by fall 1965.

1965 – New advanced wastewater treatment plant completed (2.5 MGD). A first in the world. Immediately meets or exceeds all expectations. Total cost: $11.5 million

1967 – Recycled water export pipeline from the District up and over Luther Pass to Alpine County complete. Indian Creek Dam and Reservoir complete.

1968 – First flow of effluent into Indian Creek Reservoir.

1969 – Porter-Cologne Act of 1969, California’s paramount water-quality control law. Mandated export of wastewater in the Tahoe Basin by 1972.

1972 – Federal Clean Water Act of 1972 and amendments to Porter-Cologne Act

1974 – Expand wastewater treatment plant to 7.5 MGD.

1974-87 – District begins supplying water to the community with the purchase and integration of four local water companies

1985 – Reverted wastewater treatment process from tertiary to advanced filtered secondary.

1989 – Harvey Place Dam and Reservoir placed into service. District now pumps recycled water into Harvey Place Reservoir to be used by ranchers for irrigation. Indian Creek Reservoir converted to freshwater. Wastewater treatment plant capacity expanded to 7.7 MGD.

1991 – In cooperation with Lake Tahoe Community College, District builds water conservation demonstration garden. District shuts down surface water filtration plant at Cold Creek and becomes a 100% groundwater fed system.

1992 – Air stripping tower built at Clement Well for treating PCE, TCE, DCA at South Y wells.

1993 – Water distribution system improvement and upgrade program from Stateline to the South Y with new wells and increased storage which allows redevelopment at Stateline to proceed.

1994 – US EPA Wastewater Treatment Plant of the Year Award for outstanding operations and maintenance.

1996 – Replacement of recycled water export pipeline in Tahoe Basin began with export A line.

1997 – MTBE first discovered in District drinking water well

1997-98 – District shuts down multiples wells because of MTBE contamination (12 out of 34 wells). First Tahoe Summit with President Clinton in 1997, resulting in $10.6 million in grants funds appropriated for the District’s export line replacement project.

1998 – District files MTBE lawsuit in Superior Court in San Francisco, STPUD vs ARCO et al

2000- El Dorado County bans the use of MTBE fuel in South Lake Tahoe.

2001- September 11th prompts the District to increase security throughout operations. A line recycled water export line replaced. Build Valhalla Well and two water tanks. Awarded US EPA Wastewater Treatment Plant of the Year award for the second time.

2002 – District settles landmark MTBE lawsuit receiving just over $69 million. MTBE caused 1/3 of District wells to close, which represented more than 36% of water production.  This was the first MTBE contamination lawsuit to be tried in the U.S. and the District made history shaping national environmental and energy law. Advanced oxidation treatment system added to Arrowhead well for MTBE, first to be approved by California Department of Public Health for drinking water application. Construct Glenwood Well No. 5.

2003 – Recycled water B line export line replaced. Construct Elks Club Well No. 2.

2004 - MTBE banned for sale in California. Recycled water C-line export line upgrade completed. District begins recycling biosolids with completion of Sludge Handling and Odor Control Facility project (included biosolids building and primary clarifier covers). Wastewater operations now 100% recycled with biosolids composted by Bently Agrodynamics. District adopts Water Conservation Program Ordinance with designated watering days. AB 2752 passed, which requires all water services billed at metered rate by 2025. Advanced oxidation treatment system at Bakersfield well to address MTBE.

2005 – Convert from using elemental chlorine to sodium hypochlorite at wastewater treatment plant for increased safety.

2006- Move into new Customer Service Facility. Acquire Diamond Valley Ranch, 1,443 acres of land in Alpine County. Complete construction of Bayview Well, the District’s largest producing well.

2007 – Angora Fire burned 242 homes in South Lake Tahoe, resulting in the formation of the Lake Tahoe Community Fire Prevention Partnership to bring grant funds into the basin for fire suppression. Launched multi-faceted water conservation program, including a turf buy-back program. Construct South Upper Truckee Well No. 3 and water treatment plant.

2008 – Complete construction of South Upper Truckee Well No. 3 facility and corrosion control treatment plant. Construct in-reservoir water treatment system and oxygen generation equipment at Indian Creek Reservoir.

2010 – District begins the first of eight projects to install 9,200 meters over the next 10 years at a cost of $24 million. Received $8.2 million in State and Federal grants to offset project costs while relying on low-interest loans. Construct and start-up new emergency generator facilities at Luther Pass Pump Station, improving systems reliability of the District’s treated wastewater export system.

2011 – California drought from 2011-2017, with the period of late 2011 through 2014 being the driest in California history. Completion of the Angora Water Storage Tank and Pipeline tripled amount of storage within Angora Pressure Zone. Apache booster Pump station complete. Emergency Retention Basins lined.

2012 – New Headworks building at wastewater treatment plant placed into service, which included major odor control facilities, at a cost of $14 million. Grizzly Mountain Booster Pump Station operational.

2014 – Governor Brown Proclamation of a State Emergency called on all Californians to reduce their consumption by 20% due to severe drought. District activated Water Shortage Contingency Plan. Lukins Brothers Water Company receives emergency water from District due to impairment of water quality by tetrachloroethylene (PCE) contamination in two of their active wells.

2015– Start serving as Groundwater Sustainability Agency to manage groundwater resources in the Tahoe Valley South Sub-basin. Board issued Prop 218 schedule for a 5 year rate increase. Primary clarifier 2 and aeration basin 1 rehab project at wastewater treatment plant.

2016 – Primary clarifier 2 and aeration 1 rehab project.

2017 – Replaced motors and updated electrical and controls at Luther Pass Pump Station which enabled “Time of Use” electrical load shifting for cost savings. Record snowfalls, rain on snow events, and I&I cause Tahoe Keys Sink Hole

2018 – Starts generating hydroelectric power (25MWh) from CHYDRO and cultivating alfalfa using recycled water at Diamond Valley Ranch. Launched AMI system to read meters real time. Launched WaterSmart portal so customers can view their water use and receive leak notifications. District conducts groundwater investigation and develops groundwater fate and transport models to develop and evaluate remedial alternatives for the removal of PCE from groundwater.

2019 – Complete 2 MW emergency generator for wastewater treatment plant, switch from diesel engine to electric motor at Emergency Pump Station. Board adopts Environmental Policy.

2020 – District planned meter installation completed with over 99% of the District’s 14,000 water customer accounts metered. Luther Pass Pump Station piping upgrades and Tank 2 replacement. Hazard fuel reduction completed on 100 acres surrounding WWTP. Converted Fallen Leaf Lake sewer vacuum system to electric. COVID-19 alters operations and Board approves rate relief program for customers. District is made up of 115 dedicated employees, with a $50 million annual budget, $139 million planned for our 10 year capital improvement program, and maintains $1.5 billion in assets.

General Manager:

John Thiel

Assistant General Manager:

Shannon Cotulla

Chief Financial Officer:

Paul Hughes