Tahoe sewer authority bill passes committee | RecordCourier.com

Tahoe sewer authority bill passes committee

Cheat and other grasses are still green where they grow on a hillside in Genoa. Cheatgrass is an invasive species from Europe and Asia and can outcompete native grasses. It can grow to more than 2 feet tall and typically dries out in mid-June.
Kurt Hildebrand |

A bill converting Douglas County Sewer District No. 1 into an authority was amended and approved by a legislative panel on Thursday.

Senate Bill 471 eliminates the law under which the district was formed in 1953, and creates the Douglas County Lake Tahoe Sewer Authority.

The district treats all the effluent from Douglas County’s portion of Lake Tahoe and transports it to the Pine Nut Mountains for winter storage.

Concerns about the authority’s power prompted approval of an amendment by the Assembly Government Affairs committee prohibiting it from attempting to take over the districts it serves.

In addition to the Stateline casinos, it serves several improvement districts including Kingsbury Grade, Roundhill and Tahoe Douglas districts. All three of the districts would each provide a member for the authority’s board, under the new law, which will take effect on Oct. 1 if the law’s approved. A fourth member will be appointed from the Stateline business community by Douglas County commissioners. The commission will provide the fifth member.

Under the amendment, the authority may not take over another district’s function without an interlocal agreement. Any merger or consolidation would have to occur with approval of a majority of the property owners in the district and by resolution of the authority’s board.

The bill still has to be approved by the full Assembly before final approval.

Sewer District No. 1 is currently governed by a board of Stateline casino executives. It came under scrutiny last year after it sought county approval to mine gravel to subsidize the cost of a new effluent pond in the Pine Nuts.

The original transportation route proposed for the operation brought trucks down residential streets in Carson Valley and prompted a political style campaign with signs and a web site.

Douglas County planning commissioners approved the initial proposal, but denied the project when it returned. The gravel mining operation requires approval by Douglas County commissioners.

An apparent effort to pressure commissioners to approve the proposal led the district to endorse a plan to file an ethics complaint against the planning department employee handling the project. That ethics complaint was determined to be unfounded and resulted in the Attorney General’s Office accusing the district of several open meeting law violations.

The Assembly committee also voted to recommend passage of a bill allowing the county commissioners to review the purpose of improvement districts and determine if they’re still performing their intended function.