State rejects loan for Donner Lake
The California Public Utility Commission denied a loan for $3.7 million to Donner Lake Water Company during their meeting on Sept. 7 in San Francisco.
The five commissioners voted unanimously to deny the loan, which would have been used to replace existing infrastructure and for construction of a new water treatment facility.
“Due to the appealed easement decision, the pending Environmental Impact Report, and customer concerns, it is premature and not necessary at this time for this Commission to authorize the $3.7 million Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund loan,” wrote Public Utility Commission Executive Director, Wesley M. Franklin.
The California Department of Health Services mandated a surface-water treatment plant at Donner Lake in 1991. Del Oro Water Company purchased the water system in 1993, but because of continued design modifications, environmental studies and legal delays the company has yet to build the facility.
On June 26, Del Oro Water Company distributed a “boil water” notice to more than 1,200 water customers at Donner Lake after the Department of Health Services declared that low pressure and water outages in the system increased the possibility that the water could become contaminated and cause illness.
The commission did vote to approve a $100,000 loan requested by Donner Lake Water Company to plan for the replacement program.
“The next step for Donner Lake Water Company is to get the loan for the transmission lines and distribution system approved and simultaneously to get the Town to approve the project,” Public Relations Director for Donner Lake Water Company Karin Caves said. “We’re absolutely committed to moving ahead.”
With no end to the boil water notice in sight, Donner Lake residents are increasingly concerned about prolonged exposure to low quality water.
Chris Spencer, a family nurse practitioner and infection control practitioner for the hospital district said there has been no significant increase for infectious diseases commonly found in the water in Nevada or Placer counties.
“I report every case of giardia or bacterial infection to the state. We keep a log of where patients are from… we have been checking the emergency room and all the private practices in our medical community. We are watching very closely,” she said.
Spencer added that the hospital district sent a letter to all the private practices in the area to explain the situation at Donner Lake, and asked doctors to pay particular attention to cases of abdominal or gastro-intestinal upset.
“This is not a new situation,” Spencer said. “I really think that what’s going on with Donner Lake is just dirty water. It’s been going on for a long time.”
On Aug. 31, Truckee’s Town Council upheld an appeal filed by Donner Lake Village Resort over plans to build the water treatment facility at the Northwest Corner of Donner Lake. Conflicting hydrologic reports prompted the town to uphold the appeal until further environmental analysis could be obtained.
The Town Council will reconvene Sept. 21 to discuss the resolution, at which time they will vote to conduct a full or focused Environmental Impact Report.
Concurrently, Truckee Donner Public Utility District is investigating acquiring the water system and has retained the expertise of consultants and appraisers.
Findings of the California Public Utilities Commission:
— Donner’s water supply requires improvements to provide safe drinking water and reliable water supply.
— Donner has received the Superior Court’s approval of an easement that it needs to route a pipeline from the lake to the filtration plant. The decision has been appealed and will be heard in October 2000.
— The Truckee Town Council turned down the Planning Commission’s environmental approval of the filtration plant, and required an environmental impact report, which will delay the project by at least one year.
— Due to the appealed easement decision, the pending environmental report and customer concerns, it is premature and not necessary at this time for this commission to authorize the $3.7 million Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund loan.
Conclusions of the California Public Utilities Commission:
— On or after the effective date of this resolution, Donner Lake Water Company is authorized to borrow a total of $100,000 from the State of California to be used to plan its project.
— Donner Lake Water Company may execute and deliver a loan contract with the California Department of Water Resources.
— The loan of $3.7 million for replacement infrastructure facilities and for a new water treatment facility is denied without prejudice.
— Donner Lake Water Company shall continue its full efforts to comply with the orders, including condemnation of their current facilities.
— Donner Lake Water Company may file an advice letter requesting authorization to borrow funds for its main replacement project and a new water treatment facility when all legal and governmental requirements have been completed.
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