South Lake Tahoe July Fourth fireworks could be canceled

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South Lake Tahoe July Fourth fireworks could be canceled

Fireworks
A decades-long tradition bringing millions of tourism dollars to South Lake Tahoe could be canceled this year and beyond. The board of directors for the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority will decide Thursday if the organization will sponsor the town's annual July 4th fireworks display in light of a pending lawsuit.  Zephyr Cove residents Joan and Joseph Truxler filed the suit last fall after finding fireworks debris that had washed ashore. The suit 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. In an interview earlier this year, the Truxlers' attorney Michael Lozeau said that his clients aren't advocating shutting the event down, but they do want oversight by regulatory agencies since fireworks leave behind trash and chemicals. "They're still discharging pollutants, obviously, into the lake," Lozeau says. "Whether or not that's a high level, a normal level, whether that's the level that should be allowed--those are all questions that should be addressed in a permitting process." The Authority and the Truxlers have been in voluntary mediation to resolve the issue, but the Authority's Executive Director Carol Chaplin says the Truxlers have terminated that process. With no idea of the risk for moving forward with this year's event, the Authority has not been able to contract vendors or effectively plan for the show, which brings in about $20 million annually. "It's a huge draw for visitors," Chaplin says. "It's a favorite tradition of our local community; it's got significant economic impact for our businesses."Chaplin says no regulatory agencies have ever required a permit for the event, which has been held for more than thirty years.