Donner Lake moratorium reinstated | SierraSun.com
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Donner Lake moratorium reinstated

DARIN OLDE, Sierra Sun

Builders hoping to begin new projects at Donner Lake will have to set plans aside again until Donner Lake Water Company can repair the water system.

The California Department of Health Services has reinstated the moratorium on new water connections by ordering Donner Lake Water Company to immediately cease issuing connections to the Donner Lake Water Company system.

According to the compliance order issued by Keith Yamanaka, deputy director and chief counsel for the Department of Health Services, “it is apparent the permanent solution to the water outages will not be completed in the near future, and it is necessary to impose additional restrictions to ensure that greater demand is not placed on the system.”

“We issued a moratorium or a provision of will serve letters,” said David Spath, chief of the Division of Drinking Water and Environmental Services at the Department of Health Services. “We told the water company that they cannot provide these will serve letters. So this is the same thing as a moratorium.”

The California Public Utilities Commission placed a moratorium on new water connections earlier this fall, but because of a procedural error the action was rescinded.

New construction projects at Donner Lake must receive a will serve letter from the water company in order to receive water service.

The Department of Health Services has the authority to grant or prohibit will serve letters “as it may deem necessary to protect public health and safety.”

“Because there is a boil water notice and there are still leaks in the water system we decided not to allow services that would exacerbate the problems,” Spath said.

The Department of Health Services required the water company install a telemetry system, an automatic telephone dialer on system failure alarms, investigate the need for increased pumping capacity at the lake intake, install additional pumps as needed, perform an engineering evaluation of major pipelines in the system, institute an effective water conservation program, repair leaks in the storage tanks, submit a capitol improvement plan and perform a leak detection survey of the entire distribution system.

According to the compliance order, the company has complied with most of these directives.

The leak detection survey is underway and approximately 13 miles of the 18.5 miles of pipeline in the system have been surveyed. The results to date have revealed six major leaks, amounting to an estimated total water loss of 61,920 gallons per day.

“As long as Donner Lake Water Company is still having leaking pipes, low pressure and loss of water, the moratorium will stand,” Spath said.

“We don’t have the same procedural requirements as the Public Utilities Commission. We don’t have to go to a public hearing; we can place the moratorium directly.”


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