During the 1960’s and 1970’s, water related issues were surfacing nationally. Biologists began to recognize that the water quality of Lake Tahoe and the Truckee River was deteriorating. Spurred on by public interest and the concerns of both California and Nevada governmental agencies, the Porter Cologne Water Quality Control Act (State of California) was enacted.
The Porter Cologne Water Quality Control Act mandated that all sewage be exported from the Lake Tahoe Basin. T-TSA was formed May 1, 1972 to comply with this Act and for the purpose of planning, administering and coordinating wastewater treatment and disposal services throughout the north and west shores of Lake Tahoe, the Truckee River corridor (including the communities of Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley), and Truckee to protect public health and the environment.
The Agency embarked on a program to plan, design, and construct a regional system to accomplish its mandate. The treated wastewater was to be discharged in such a manner as to retain the integrity of ground and surface waters, while ensuring the quantity of water downstream was not diminished. To realize these goals, the Agency constructed:
Approximately 17 miles of interceptor pipeline (Tahoe City to the water reclamation plant site, located three miles east of Truckee in the Martis Valley);
A 4.83 million gallon per day (MGD) advanced wastewater treatment plant; and
A disposal system consisting of approximately 78,000 feet of underground perforated piping.
The facility began treating wastewater in February 1978. The original project cost $32 million with funds provided by a combination of General Obligation Bonds, State Grants, and Federal Grants.
In 1978, the original regional water reclamation plant (WRP) began its operations. Within several months of startup, wastewater flows reached about 80 percent of the plant’s 4.83 MGD capacity. In response, T-TSA initiated efforts to expand the capacity of the treatment facilities to 7.4 MGD. The expanded water reclamation facilities were placed into operation in 1982 at a cost of $10 million. The sale of Revenue Bonds accounted for almost $8 million of this figure. The project resulted in a treatment facility with greater capacity, process diversity and cost effectiveness.
In December 1997, the T-TSA treatment facility was again approaching 80 percent of its design capacity. The Agency began to investigate expansion alternatives for conveyance, treatment, and effluent disposal facilities to accommodate future growth in the service area population. The resultant expansion project was designed to increase overall plant capacity to 9.6 MGD. Expanded primary and secondary treatment processes remained essentially the same, and a biological nitrogen removal (BNR) system was constructed to replace an existing physical-chemical process. In addition, a new method of dewatering biosolids was implemented. The facility was formally commissioned in 2008 at a total program cost of nearly $75 million, with a constructed value of $54 million. Approximately $50 million of the program was funded by a low interest loan obtained from the State of California’s Division of Clean Water Program’s State Revolving Fund. In addition, a grant of $11.6 million was obtained from the Department of Water Resources for partial funding of the BNR facilities.