Tahoe in the News

Plastics are not the Tahoe way

By Katelyn Welsh | Tahoe Daily Tribune
April 19, 2024

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – The City of South Lake Tahoe’s single-use water bottle ban goes into effect for commercial vendors on Earth Day, April 22.

The League to Save Lake Tahoe, known for its slogan, Keep Tahoe Blue, has supported the ordinance and hopes the change inspires sustainable thinking.

“I think when we put the best foot forward in Tahoe by not offering single-use plastic water bottles for sale,” says the league’s Marilee Movius, “it really shows to the people in our community and that are visiting, that plastics are not the Tahoe way.”

The Tahoe way, the Senior Community Engagement Manager says, is using alternatives to single-use plastic, choosing reusables, drinking Tahoe tap, leaving places better than when they were found, and picking up litter.

“All of these actions,” she says, “really help keep Tahoe blue and protect the lake for future generations.”

City Council updated its ordinance in October 2022, banning the sale of single-use plastic water bottles within city limits, with an exception for emergencies. The ban applies to bottles less than one gallon and does not include sparkling or flavored waters.

The city implemented the ban in phases, starting last year on Earth Day for city facilities, city-affiliated events, and city concessionaires.

The next phase goes citywide for all commercial vendors on Earth Day this year.

Fines for violating the ordinance are up to $100 for the first violation, $200 for the second, and $500 for each additional violation within one year.

South Tahoe’s Sustainability Coordinator, Sara Letton, doesn’t anticipate any issues with the transition. “Community sentiment seems to be very supportive, overall,” Letton says as the city, in partnership with the league, has been engaging the community with door-to-door education campaigns at local businesses, providing mailings, emails, and conducting social media campaigns.

One message to residents and tourists has been encouraging them to choose to refuse single-use plastics and, as the billboards and signs say, “Drink Tahoe Tap” instead.

The Tahoe Water Suppliers Association provides Tahoe tap from minimally treated rain and snowmelt. The award-winning drinking water provided at no cost at refill stations is music to the ears, especially if you listen to the song about it, “If you find yourself in Tahoe, turn on the Tap. It’s the finest drink of water in the world and that’s a fact…”

With the help of city grants, businesses are installing refill stations to dispense Tahoe Tap as they get ready for the ban. This places them on the Tahoe Tap map, where the thirsty person can find the closest refill station near them.

The younger generation has gotten involved in outreach efforts, including the SOS Outreach youth and mentors, South Tahoe High School Climate Crew students and South Tahoe High School Key Club. Together with the league, Americorps fellows from South Tahoe Public Utility District and South Tahoe Refuse, and an intern from Drink Tahoe Tap, they were able to visit 97 businesses between December and March.

Read the full story.

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