Utility district takes first steps in improving Donner water | SierraSun.com
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Utility district takes first steps in improving Donner water

Amanda Butler, Sierra Sun

In a decision announced June 7, the Truckee Donner Public Utility District voted to approve beginning construction on the Donner Lake water intake system as well as contract for services to design a new water holding tank.

The work, which should begin mid month, is the first sign of relief for Donner Lake residents who have been under a water emergency declaration for over a year and forced to boil their drinking water.

“The board has approved three projects that we will undertake this summer,” said Peter Holzmeister, general manager of the public utility district. “First, we will replace the lake intake.

That’s basically the pipe that goes from the pump building into the lake.”

Holzmeister said the current pipe has several holes in it, which means that instead of taking water from deep within the lake, water comes in from shallow surface areas.

“When you begin bringing in water from shallow areas, or from surface areas, you have the possibility that you are taking water contaminated with boat fuel or bacteria,” said Holzmeister.

Replacing the pipe will cost the district somewhere in the range of $160,000, which will be paid back in the form of a tax assessed to residents of Donner Lake.

“The assessment is running about $450 a year per property,” said Donner Lake Property’s Water Committee Member, John Byrne. “That includes barren property as well.”

Although Byrne expected the district’s approval to begin work on the dilapidated system, he was glad to see the first signs of real progress.

“I’m delighted that the TDPUD has taken over the water works,” said Byrne. “I think that it will be a struggle this year because they are getting started kind of late, but they’ll probably get the boil water notice lifted in September.”

In a 4-to-1 vote, the board also approved contracts for consulting services for the second part of the district’s plan for water system: designing a new water holding tank.

“Luhdorff and Scalmanaini have been contracted to do the design work and engineering services for the project,” said Holzmeister. “We also retained them to help with the building the pipeline from the lake intake to the new storage tank.”

Holzmeister said the three projects were high priorities so that the water boil notice could be lifted in late September.

He estimates that the storage tank will cost a little over $300,000 and the pipeline could run anywhere from $1.6 to $1.8 million.

District officials are hoping to split that cost with Southwest Gas Company, which also needs to install a line.

Byrne is hoping the new work will help prevent any water outages this summer.

“The (district) was supposed to start work on the 11th, and if they get that started they’ll probably get through the summer without any outages, at least as long as people conserve,” said Byrne.

“It’s going to be a struggle, but we’ll limp through.”

Byrne encouraged residents of Donner Lake to find out the latest in the status of the water system by attending a meeting June 30 at the Donner Lake Beach.

“The beach will be open to the public starting at 2:30 and the meeting will begin at 3 p.m.,” said Byrne.

Representatives from the State of California’s Department of Health Services, the district and Southwest Gas Company will be on hand to address residents concerns and help explain future plans.

The next district meeting will be held Wednesday, June 20 in the Truckee Donner Public Utility District’s board room.

For more information about the public utility district call 587-3896 or visit their Web site at http://www.tdpud.org.


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