Public Utilities Commission considers hookup delay at Donner Lake | SierraSun.com
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Public Utilities Commission considers hookup delay at Donner Lake

DARIN OLDE, Sierra Sun

The California Public Utilities Commission, Donner Lake Water Company, and the State Department of Health Services will meet in a public meeting next week to discuss a moratorium on new connections for Donner Lake Water Co., the boil water notice, and the possibility of imposing penalties for consumers that refuse to abide by water conservation policies.

The first of two meetings, the meeting between Donner Lake Water Co. president Bob Fortino and CPUC Advisory Branch official Leslie Tinch, and a state health services official will take place on July 10 at 7 p.m. at the Public Utility District’s board room. The moratorium, boil water notice, and mandatory water rationing will be the topics at hand, said Fortino.

On July 12 at roughly 6 p.m. in town hall, Del Oro Water Co. and the town planning division will meet with the planning commission to submit the environmental study required by the town before the proposed water treatment plant can be approved.

This is the second of two public meetings.

Fortino also said that discussing the proposed $19 per month surcharge, which would help fund the $3.7 million treatment plant, will not be an objective for the meeting. The PUC closes public discussion regarding the surcharge following the meeting on July 10.

Heading the environmental study is an examination of the efficacy and safety of the proposed treatment plant in case of a flood.

“The report has been submitted to the planning division, and the division will be submitting that report along with staff analysis and staff recommendation,” said Duane Hall, the Town Planner. “The planning commission will then review that report.”

“What’s coming out in the report,” continued Hall, “is that the site where the treatment building would go is outside the flood plain of the Gregory Creek channel, but there are blockages in the channel that could pose a threat. Del Oro is proposing several measures to correct that problem.”

Hall said that blockage of the Gregory Creek channel was a major contributor to the flood of ’97.

If town council approves the treatment plant, Del Oro will still face litigation with Donner Lake Village Resort over an easement that will cross the resort’s property.

Del Oro filed to condemn the property for the plant’s intake pipe. Currently, the case is still pending.

“We support both the environmental studies conducted by Del Oro and the PUC’s decision to impose water restrictions,” said Jess Morehouse, and engineer with the state health services department. “I hope people support the project. It’s expensive to develop water treatment projects and to waste water. The water must be used wisely, and conserved to the greatest extent possible.”

“I’m not sure what they can do that they have not already done,” said Dr. Alexander Rogerson, a pediatrician and Donner Lake resident regarding the meetings next week. “But I think the meeting on the 12th will be more interesting because that will be when the town will state its position on development of the treatment plant.”

Rogerson said that most of the people he has talked to have not boiled water. He said they have purchased water filters that remove microorganisms and particles as small as one micron.

“People have been doing that for years and they haven’t been getting sick,” said Rogerson.

Rogerson also said that some residents have been going beyond the lake toward Sugarbowl Ski Resort to Wolf Creek Estates to get water.

“There is a pump house and a faucet,” said the pediatrician. “The water comes out of an artesian well. It is part of the Del Oro water supply but because it comes out of the artesian well it’s not chlorinated. They [the people drinking the water] don’t seem to be worried about contamination.”

Following a notice from the Nevada County Department of Environmental Health which instructed physicians to report illnesses they think may be attributable to water, Rogerson said he doesn’t think water has been leading to increases in disease for Donner Residents.

“We see occasional cases of giardia but there have been no outbreaks of giardia or cryptosporidium. It would be pretty hard to prove that the cases are from the water, because it could be from eating out. Eating out increases your risk of contracting the illness because of servers, cooks, food storage, and so forth. For it to be an outbreak in the water supply we’d have to have a whole series of cases.”

Kathy Polucha of nevada county health said that she has received several reports from individuals around Donner Lake claiming the water from Del Oro’s treatment facility made them sick. Because the water supply is larger than County jurisdiction allows, Polucha is referring phone calls to the state health services department, who is investigating the reports.


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