Sewer permits suspended on Donner Summit | SierraSun.com
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Sewer permits suspended on Donner Summit

DARIN OLDE, Sierra Sun

Property owners and builders at Serene Lakes on Donner Summit cannot begin new construction projects because of a suspension on sewer permits.

Sierra Lakes County Water District on Donner Summit temporarily suspended new sewer permits because the company is concerned it will exceed the maximum volume of sewage allowed by Donner Summit Public Utility District’s treatment plant.

“We have allocated monthly flow, and we reached or exceeded the maximum in April this year, May last year and June two years ago,” Sierra Lakes Water County District President Ulrich Luschera said.

The company-issued suspension is a preventative measure intended to sustain service to customers until the company can reduce flow to the treatment facility or obtain additional flow capacity.

“We bought 44 percent of the flow capacity of Donner Summit PUD’s treatment plant. If we could buy additional capacity we would,” Ulrich said.

Sierra Lakes County Water District serves 680 connections with water, including the communities of Serene Lakes, Royal Gorge and Ice Lakes Lodge. The water company can discharge as much as 228,900 gallons of sewage to Donner Summit PUD’s treatment facility per day.

The company suspects spring snow melt is infiltrating the sewage discharge system and inflating the volume.

“Serene Lakes’ waste water system is approximately 11 miles long. Some conduits are low-lying, and at times below the water level in Serene lake. If there are any leaks in the system then in periods of high ground water the water flows into the pipes where they may be leaks,” Ulrich said. “We have probably spent $40,000 to study and repair inflow and infiltration.”

Ulrich said his staff reported a reduction in inflow and infiltration by 100,000 gallons.

The estimate arrived by studying inflow and infiltration three primary ways.

– Flow measurements, where the company isolated sections of the subdivision and installed precision measurements to estimate how much flow is in line and determine where and when inflow occurred.

– Close circuit TV surveying of water flow.

– Smoke Testing – smoke injected into the pipes can be used find holes and leaks in line breaks.

Currently, Donner Summit PUD and Sierra Lakes are studying the results of efforts to reduce inflow and infiltration.

“Because of the improvements we’ve made to the system we expect to get additional connections when the engineers complete their study.” Ulrich anticipates the study to be complete in a month or two.

Steve Grimm, general manager of Donner Summit PUD, said the plant can handle .52 million gallons of flow per day. He was not able to determine whether Sierra Lake Water County District will be eligible for additional capacity.

“We will have to wait until the results of the study,” Grimm said.

“What we’re faced with is Serene Lakes lots are losing value,” said Mark Schaller, a realtor with Boice Countryside Realtors. “I’m dealing with clients who love the lots but they don’t know if they can get a sewer permit and build.”


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