Couple sues Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority over fireworks shows

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Couple sues Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority over fireworks shows


A Zephyr Cove couple has filed a lawsuit against the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority and a fireworks provider challenging the authority's right to host fireworks shows on the south shore without a permit.

The suit, filed by Joan and Joseph Truxler, alleges that the visitors authority is in violation of the federal Clean Water Act because it does not have a permit to operate two major fireworks displays over the lake each year for Labor Day and the Fourth of July. The displays discharge debris and chemicals into the lake.

Carol Chaplin, who directs the visitors authority, says her organization has held these displays for more than thirty years and no regulatory agencies have ever required a permit.

"We are not opposed to a permitting process necessarily. As a matter of fact, the issue is that there is no permit process and there is no permitting agency at this point, so it's interesting to understand that we're in violation of not having a permit, when there is not one to be had."

The Truxlers' attorney Michael Lozeau says the couple is not advocating that the event be canceled in the future, but they do want it to be regulated.

After each event, the authority sends divers and boats with nets to capture debris, but Lozeau says they aren't catching everything.

"The question is what else can be done to make sure no trash is lingering out there and what additional monitoring would be appropriate to make sure that whatever levels of chemicals or trash that are deposited in the lake are located and cleaned up and aren't too high in terms of any levels."

The Truxlers filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Sacramento in November after finding fireworks debris, which had washed ashore after both of last year's events.

Lozeau says the Truxlers contacted the authority to complain about the pollution before filing their suit, but they received no response. Carol Chaplin says her organization was not informed of the Truxler's complaint until the issue was picked up by local media outlets.