Hearing over Coldstream well continues
Applicants for a spring water business in Coldstream Canyon remained afloat in appeal hearings Feb. 6 after Placer County attorneys negated federal law which may prohibit the range of distribution of ground water from the Truckee River basin.
“It is our conclusion that at present there is nothing in the federal law cited to us that requires your board to delay or deny this appeal,” wrote Anthony J. La Bouff, council for Placer County Board of Supervisors.
The board delayed appeal hearings over a conditional use permit for a water extraction business Jan. 23 to investigate federal law which controls the fate of water in Coldstream Canyon, part of the Truckee River basin.
The Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribal Settlement Act, passed by the U.S. Congress in 1990, states that “water shall not be diverted from within the Truckee River Basin in California for use in California outside the Truckee River basin,” said Stefanie Olivieri, spokeswoman for Mountain Area Preservation Foundation, one of two appellates in the hearing.
The preservation foundation cited the law in its appeal, and added that the Town of Truckee denied approval of a commercial beer bottling plant in the Truckee River basin due to a similar conflict.
The Truckee-Carson-Pyramid Lake Water Rights Settlement Act “calls for the development of the Truckee River Operating Agreement,” continued La Bouff. “That agreement has yet to be negotiated, and until that agreement is finalized, it is our opinion that … the act is ineffectual.”
The Board of Supervisors requested additional information on the environmental effects of erosion and dust, issues that may be a factor for visitors of Donner Memorial State Park.
The applicants proposed up to 5,400 truck trips up to the well each year. The road to the well goes through Donner Memorial State Park, the only state park in the Town of Truckee.
The state parks department disagrees with Placer County over the significance of the environmental effects, said Ken Anderson, resource ecologist for the Sierra district of California state parks and plaintiff named in the second appeal. Anderson also felt the impacts of the water pipeline, a measure the applicant may take to transport the water, fragments the project.
“An agency is not permitted to segment a project into several pieces if the effect is to avoid full disclosure of environmental impacts,” he said.
County planners met with the applicants and invited them to return a proposal that addresses erosion and air quality concerns, said Bill Combs, Placer County’s principle planner for the Tahoe region.
The applicant and property owner, Walter M. Harvey, explored the possibility of developing a pipeline to dispense water at a site near the mouth of the valley. Placer County officials said it the proposal becomes reality, it would eliminate the need for truck trips through the valley.
“(The applicants) will have to look into the practicality and economics of (a solution), and we will report to the board whether it is adequate or not,” Combs said.
Other considerations that were expressed in the appeal process were impacts to fish and wildlife, nearby ground and surface waters, proximity to the Emigrant trail, aesthetics and compatibility with surrounding uses.
“There may be some disagreement over the conclusions reached,” Combs said after hearing several hours of testimony. “But the board had adequate time to hear from both sides and does not need more information (on other subjects) to make a decision.”
The hearing will be continued Tuesday, Feb. 20 at 10:45 a.m. at the Placer County Courthouse at 175 Fulweiler Avenue in Auburn.
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