Town considers delay of MTBE trigger at lake | SierraSun.com
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Town considers delay of MTBE trigger at lake

ANNE GROGAN, Sierra Sun

Truckee Town Council will be asked tonight to suspend for this summer Donner Lake’s trigger mechanism for motorized craft so that a group of researchers can extensively study the long-term effects of gasoline constituents and other organic compounds on the lake’s water quality.

Town council last year passed an ordinance which would prohibit Donner Lake use of motorized craft in the event water quality tests showed that Donner Lake’s water did not meet state drinking water standards as a result of the presence of MTBE, an oxygenating fuel additive found to be carcinogenic at certain levels.

The University of California at Davis and CH2Mhill, another research agency, have expressed interest in applying a $200,000 grant to the study of all gasoline constituents and other organic compounds in Donner Lake to formulate a theory applicable to all surface waters. The agencies currently have an extensive amount of water quality data on Donner Lake, Councilmember Bob Drake said.

“During the study approximately 150 samples will be collected from Donner Lake and analyzed for MTBE and BTEX compounds (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene),” UCD Staff Research Associate Brant Allen wrote April 17 to Town Manager Steve Wright. “Coupled with the water quality sampling, detailed data on the boating use on Donner Lake will be collected. This is essential if we are to accurately model MTBE and BTEX in the lake as a result of marine engine use.”

Also essential to gathering accurate data, Drake said, is ensuring that the study is not affected by a sudden discontinuance of marine engine use, such as would occur if MTBE parts per billion reach the level where town officials must pull the trigger on Donner Lake motorized boat use.

For this reason, town council must tonight weigh the importance of a thorough study of long-term effects of numerous gasoline compounds on water quality against the potential threat to public safety from high MTBE levels in Donner Lake water this summer.

In other business:

– Council will be asked to Town Engineer Dan Wilkins to amend a contract with Copenhagen Utilities to allow for additional storm drain installation on Donner Pass Road, Church Street and School Street as part of Copenhagen’s fiberoptic installation project. In addition, council will be asked to amend the budget with Copenhagen from $150,000 to up to $305,000 by allocating $150,000 from the Measure A primary road improvement fund.

“This unique opportunity to take advantage of a joint trench provides estimated savings of $70,000 to $100,000,” Town of Truckee Associate Engineer Michael L. Vaughan wrote in his report to council.

– Council will consider Resolution 2000-25 which would authorize a cooperative funding agreement with Caltrans for construction of drainage improvements at the Highway 267/Union Pacific Railroad crossing between Donner Pass Road and West River Street.

– An electronic communication policy, defining email, fax and web page guidelines for town employees and subcontractors using town equipment will be presented to council for approval.

– Council will consider authorizing a contract with Applied Development Economics for preparation of a development strategy and implementation plan to guide business retention, expansion and attraction in the Town of Truckee.

– Council will consider acquisition of a third Tahoe Donner right of way.


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