Donner water treatment plant appealed; State senator gets involved |

Donner water treatment plant appealed; State senator gets involved

California State Senator Tim Leslie has taken an interest in Donner Lake’s water crisis.

With an appeal filed Monday by Donner Lake Village over the proposed water treatment plant location, Sen. Leslie has organized a public meeting at Tahoe-Truckee High School’s auditorium on Monday, July 31 at 6:30 p.m. to inform residents of Donner Lake and to record public comment.

“Representatives from the senator’s office are going to be there,” said Truckee Mayor Maia Schneider, “and a representative from the state Revolving Funds management office will also be present.”

On July 14, representatives from the Town of Truckee, Tahoe Forest Hospital, Donner Lake Water Co., and officials from state health and service agencies met in a private meeting to assign short term goals and action plans. The goals were to improve water purity at Donner Lake over the short term, to investigate replacing the distribution system as a separate project from the water treatment plant, to address critical health and safety issues, and to increase communication between the water company, Donner residents and the regulatory agencies.

“Part of the meeting on Monday will address the results of the action plans that were introduced in the July 14 meeting,” said Rob Eskridge, a Tahoe Forest Hospital board member.

“There were a number of strategies put forth in the meeting last week,” said Schneider. “But the meeting on Monday will address whether or not we can we provide new pipes. If there is one single issue out there it is the replacement of the pipe system.”

The broken pipes and storage tanks at Donner Lake are the reason contaminants are entering the distribution system.

“The boil water issue has much more to do with water flow rather than the treatment facility,” added Schneider. “Seepage and leakage can cause backfill when there isn’t enough pressure in the system. That increases the risk of bacteria entering the system, which results in the boil notice.”

The SDHS, the State Public Utilities Commission, and Donner Lake Water Co. have been attempting to secure funding through a state revolving fund project to replace the distribution system.

Cliff Sharpe, Chief of Northern California’s Field Operations Branch of the State Department of Health Services (SDHS), said that Donner Lake Water Co. submitted the preliminary application to enter the next funding cycle.

“They are on the eligibility list, and they are in the high category, so they are eligible for funding,” Sharpe said.

The next step for the Water Co. is to submit a complete application.

“It’s pretty much guaranteed that they will receive funding,” continued Sharpe. “This would be a funding project for a whole new piping system.”

If funding can be secured, Donner Lake Water Co. could receive the money as early as October. New pipes and storage tanks would eliminate much of the water loss and would maintain higher pressure in the distribution system. In effect, the new system would likely result in lifting the boil water notice.

Bob Fortino, president of Donner Lake Water Co., said that he has begun filling out the complete application to receiving funding.

Although securing money to replace the distribution system could improve the quality of the water, the appeal filed by Donner Lake Village will postpone development of the water treatment facility.

The appeal will be examined at the town council meeting on Thursday, Aug. 17 at 6 p.m. The council has the right to override the appeal. The meeting is open to the public.

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