PUD in arbitration over Donner Lake Water System: Residents still waiting for repayment for double-billing
August 19, 2003
In 2001 some Truckee residents paid twice as much for water than they should have.
Many Donner Lake and Armstrong Tract residents paid in advance for a year of water – at approximately $23 per month – from Del Oro Water Co. When the Truckee Donner Public Utility District took over, it began billing customers on a monthly basis to have the revenue necessary to operate the system. And those customers who paid Del Oro in advance are still waiting for a refund.
This week the utility district is in private arbitration with Del Oro – which owned the water system during the Donner Lake water crisis – in Auburn to decide on a price for the water system, which should remedy the double billing situation, say utility district officials. Ultimately the arbitration will conclude how much the utility district will pay Del Oro for the rights to the Donner Lake water system.
“This is a typical timeline when it comes to going to court for [water issues],” said Ed Taylor, water utility engineer for the district.
The utility district was set to go to trial by jury earlier this summer, but the judge decided water rights issues may be to complicated for a jury to understand, putting the arbitration off until this week.
The delay in court has not only postponed Donner Lake and Armstrong residents from getting their refund – It has put off a low-interest state revolving loan from the Department of Health Services to help the utility district make improvements on the system, says Donner Lake-resident Emilie Kashtan, who works with a PUD subcommittee on Donner Lake water issues.
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One man who owns a duplex in Armstrong says he doesn’t think the utility district has done enough to get his money back.
“The TDPUD, in my opinion has completely ignored the fact that $200 to a lot of people in Truckee is a lot of money,” Skip Gosser said.
Gosser said he’s concerned that by the time the utility district gets the money to repay customers, many of them will have “left town and be unreachable.”
Kashtan, along with Kathy Polucha-Kessler, was outspoken on Donner Lake water issues. The women created e-mail and mailing lists to send periodic announcements to residents affected by Donner Lake water.
“We sent one in 2001, telling people to think about paying their water bills by the month (rather than for the year),” Kashtan said. Some people may not have listened to or heard the announcement, she said.
People concerned that the utility district does not have their correct address for the refund may call 582-3909.