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Donner Lake residents must boil tapwater

DARIN OLDE, Sierra Sun

During the busiest weekend of the year, Donner Lake Water Co., the California Public Utilities Commission, and the California Department of Health Services have issued a water emergency declaration and boil water announcement for residents of Donner Lake until further notice.

According to the declaration, the Department of Health Services has determined the pumps, pipelines, and conduits of the Donner Lake Water Co. cannot meet the current demands and requirements of water consumers in the district.

Although water supplied from Donner Lake Water Co. is chlorinated as much as 3.0 parts per million to kill parasites and fecal coliform, the declaration states that the boil notice is a result of “water outages [which] can increase the possibility that the water system could become contaminated and cause illness among water consumers.”

Additionally, Donner Lake Water Co. has submitted an application for a State Revolving Fund loan for the filtration plant and replacement of the leaking pipes and storage tanks. The application has been approved pending acceptance of the environmental documentation (CEQA/NEPA).

The water emergency declaration will be hand-delivered to customers this weekend.

“We had our suspicions that there might be a health hazard occurring,” said Norm Greenberg, supervising environmental health specialist for the NCDEH. “By issuing a boil notice and water emergency declaration the state has established that there is a health hazard. The state has confirmed our suspicions.”

Donner Lake’s water system is more than 50 years old and badly corroded. The pipes have never been replaced, say state health officials.

The declaration also states that Donner Lake Water Co. has applied with the California Public Utilities Commission for a mandatory conservation rationing to be imposed on the entire service area. A public meeting will be held on July 10, at 7 p.m. at the Truckee-Donner Public Utilities District Board Room to explain the current situation and the effect of the proposed action. Bob Fortino, president of the Del Oro Water Co., the company that owns Donner Lake Water Co., and a representative from CPUC plan to attend.

Donner Lake Water Co. will provide water through a faucet at their Donner Lake office at 15670 Donner Pass Road.

The $3.7 million dollar proposed treatment facility, which won’t be completed this year, has been held up for a number of reasons. The town of Truckee’s planning commission is waiting for a study from Donner Lake Water Co. that will determine the effect of flooding on water quality. Also, Donner Lake Village has a claim against DLWC over an easement, that would allow a water line for the treatment plant to traverse their property.

“There are numbers of agencies that issue approval before the treatment plant can be built,” said Jess Morehouse, district engineer for the California Department of Health Services.

Bob Fortino said that he has the information to present to the town to Truckee.

“We’re ready. We have the information in a report that is over 50 pages long and cost more than $15,000,” said Fortino. “We will present the information to the town on the July 12, but the town has been briefed about the contents of the report as the study has been conducted.”

“As I understand it,” continued Fortino, “this is the last issue of approximately five, but all were mitigated except for this one. This is the last major issue that we’re aware of. I believe that all the other agencies and their issues have been addressed.”

The meeting between the planning commission and the Truckee’s Town Council on Wednesday, July 12 at 6 p.m. is also open to the public.


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