Donner Lake Water Crisis: A Look Back | SierraSun.com
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Donner Lake Water Crisis: A Look Back

Staff reports

It has been three months since the California Department of Health Services mandated a boil water notice for residents of Donner Lake’s water system. But some residents have lost track, or never cared in the first place. The water system, they say, has been this way for many years.As such, it may be time to take a look back at the history of Donner Lake Water Company since it was first notified of its health and safety problems.Who’s Who In The Donner Lake Water CrisisCPUC – California Public Utility Commission, the state regulatory agency responsible for controlling the rates and for public utilities.DHS – California Department of Health Services, the public regulatory agency responsible for health of water systems larger than 200 connections.DLWC – Donner Lake Water Company, the water provider at Donner Lake.DLVOA – Donner Lake Village Owners Association, commonly referred to as Donner Lake Village Resort, the private business at the northwest corner of Donner Lake.DOWC – Del Oro Water Company, the parent water company of Donner Lake Water Company.NCDEH – Nevada County Department of Environmental Health, the county agency responsible for the health of water reserves that supply less than 200 connections.1991Donner Lake Water Co. (DLWC) engages the services of Luhdorff & Scalmanini Consulting Engineers (LSCE), who determine the water from the well is influenced by surface water, thus requiring treatment under the Surface Water Treatment Rule.Aug. 13, 1993California Department of Health Services (DHS) issues a compliance order directing DLWC to treat surface water sources.September 1993Del Oro Water Company (DOWC) purchases DLWC and applies to California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for ra ate increase to pay for a feasibility study regarding options available to satisfy the compliance order.1993 – 1994Luhdorff & Scalmanini submit a lakewater sampling plan to DHS for approval.May 3, 1995Officials at Nevada County Department of Environmental Health (NCDEH) write Jess Morehouse of DHS regarding periodic water outages that occur for Donner Lake water customers.1995 – 1996Luhdorff & Scalmanini design lake intake, explore water treatment plant site, and compile a watershed survey.Sept. 27, 1995CPUC grants a rate increase; DHS extends compliance schedule to 12/97.Sept. 27, 1995Officials at Nevada County Department of Environmental Health write second letter to DHS regarding water outages and safety.1997Del Oro applies for California Environmental Quality Act approval through the Town of Truckee.1998Donner Lake Village Homeowners’ Association (DLVOA) threatens litigation over treatment plant site.1999Del Oro withdraws first project application and seeks alternate site and orders new plans. Luhdorff & Scalmanini meet with Town of Truckee staff at the Knott property to discuss suitability of that site. With Truckee’s concurrence, the property is ultimately purchased and Luhdorff & Scalmanini commence re-design of the treatment plant.July 4, 1999DLWC records first water outages.August 1999Donner Lake Village refuses Del Oro’s appraised offer to purchase easement.Sept. 22, 1999DHS issues second compliance order, and extends compliance schedule to 12/00.December 1999Del Oro submits a second project application to the town and files to condemn their property at Donner Lake Village.February 2000Initial Environmental Study circulated to the public.March 12, 2000A Planning Commission hearing discusses flooding and mitigation measures.March 23, 2000Del Oro retains independent hydrologist to assess flooding/drainage.April 12, 2000Planning Commission hearing.June 22, 2000DHS directs DLWC to issue a “BOIL WATER” notice because frequent water outages and low pressure increase the risk of illness.June 29, 2000Nevada County Grand Jury issues report concluding DHS, DLWC and NCDEH demonstrate lack of urgency in resolving situation. Jury requests responses from DHS, Del Oro and CPUC and requires response from NCDEH by Sept. 30, 2000.July 7, 2000DHS issues citation to DLWC for failure to comply with a requirement of the California Safe Drinking Water ActJuly 12, 2000Planning Commission hearing. Commission approves Planning Department recommendation to adopt Mitigated Negative Declaration and Application for Condition Use PermitJuly 24, 2000Donner Lake Village submits appeal of Planning Commission decision.Aug. 3, 2000CPUC approves mandatory rationing and conservation, placing a service moratorium on new connections, ordering the filing of a service improvement plan, audit of DLWC’s books and business practices, and immediate correction of deficient facilities.Aug. 14, 2000Recently-formed Donner Lake Citizens Committee submits petition to Truckee Donner Public Utility District with more than 400 signatures asking the public agency to take over DLWC. The committee submits a second petition also with more than 400 signatures to CPUC asking them not to approve any money for DLWC.Aug. 31, 2000Town Council upholds appeal filed by Donner Lake Village over the location of the proposed Water Treatment facility.Sept. 7, 2000CPUC denies State Revolving Fund loan for the construction of the treatment facility and pipelines on South Shore Drive.Sept. 21, 2000Truckee Town Council to consider whether to request a full or focused environmental impact report on proposed site of treatment plant.Timeline by Darin Olde; Bill Gustavson contributed to this report


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