Utilities commission, PUD discuss Donner Lake water | SierraSun.com

Utilities commission, PUD discuss Donner Lake water

The California Public Utility Commission held a private meeting Aug. 22 to examine statements made by Truckee Donner Public Utility District President Ronald Hemig regarding Donner Lake water service.

PUC Water Division Branch Chief Fred Curry called the meeting to clarify three issues: PUD replacement of Donner Lake Water Co., the PUD’s plan to provide water service at Donner Lake, including rehabilitating the existing water system, and the PUD’s request that the PUC take no action that would complicate or impede providing water at Donner Lake.

The Truckee Donner PUD has taken an interest in Donner Lake water after a deposition by approximately 100 Donner Lake residents pleaded for the district’s involvement. Donner Lake Water Co. customers have been under a boil water notice since June 22.

Representatives from the PUC, the PUD, the Town of Truckee and the California Department of Health Services were present for the meeting, held in Sacramento.

“Our real question was if we approve the State Revolving Fund Loan on Sept. 7 what modifications should we do. Some of the suggested modifications are that the plans for improvement be reviewed and replacements meet the inspection of the PUD,” Curry said.

PUD general manager Peter Holzmeister explained that the PUC and the PUD agreed that, at a minimum, Donner Lake Water Co. should replace the south shore water line and that the repairs should comply with Truckee Donner standards. The south shore transmission main comprises roughly two miles of piping and is suspected to be an area of high water loss.

“Whatever action we take, we are going to do it with the best interest of our customers in mind. And that is really our goal,” Donner Lake Water Co. President Bob Fortino said.

Curry explained that the Public Utility District does not have authorization as a regulatory agency, but when a public entity like the district has a concern, the utility commission pays attention to it.

“We understand that Truckee Donner PUD is here in the public’s interest, and it is in the public interest that the PUC do what’s reasonable,” Curry said.

“We wanted to verify that should the PUC approve the loan on Sept. 7 we would be able to use revolving funds money if we ended up owning the system,” Holzmeister said.

If the money is approved, it will be allocated for the project, not for the corporate entity that will do the work, explained Truckee Mayor Maia Schneider.

Donner Lake Water Co. has been in talks with Southwest Gas Corporation to perform joint trenching, and plans to begin large-scale improvements to the system if the loan is approved.

“We have not made arrangements to replace the pipes at the present time,” Southwest Gas Corp. Project Manager Ron Bassler said, “but we are open to making arrangements.”

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