Water tank site unpopular with some | SierraSun.com

Water tank site unpopular with some

Photo by Paul Raymore/Sierra SunEric Perlman (left) and Alan Farrantine stand in front of the Truckee Donner Public Utility District's proposed water tank site.

If the Truckee Donner Public Utility District goes ahead with construction of a new 300,000-gallon water tank on a piece of Town of Truckee right-of-way along upper Donner Lake Road this season, Alan Farrantine thinks local residents are going to be upset.

Farrantine, who owns four lots next to the proposed tank site, said the district is ignoring the adverse visual impacts that the tank ” and potentially tanks ” would have.

An initial environmental review for the tank proposal has already been completed and environmental quality documents have been drawn up that would allow for two 300,000-gallon water storage tanks ” both 32-feet tall by 40 feet wide, although Ed Taylor, the district’s water utility manager, said that in all likelihood the district would only ever build one tank on the site.

But Farrantine and another local landowner, Eric Perlman, who owns 6.5 acres adjacent to Farrantine, both claim that the tank site the district is hoping to use is a poor alternative to another piece of land owned by Farrantine. That lot, approximately 50 feet farther from Donner Lake Road, has more mature trees between where the tanks would go and the road, the men said.

“Here we are at the western gateway to Truckee, and the PUD, with no thought to aesthetics, is proposing to put an 80-foot wall of steel in here,” Perlman said.

“The tanks are going to be here for 100 years,” Farrantine added. “Once those tanks are there, there will be no way to get any tree cover.”

Farrantine said he is so concerned about the potential visual impacts of the proposed tank site that he is now willing to give the district the land for the alternate site he is proposing. But now he is concerned that he may be too late since the district hopes to begin construction this summer.

“We’re just concerned that the train has already left the station on this issue and it’s going to be impossible to stop,” Farrantine said.

Taylor maintained that there is still time for interested parties to comment on the proposed tank site and that so far he has received a number of comments from Farrantine, the Town of Truckee and other interested parties.

“When we put a project out [for public comment] and do a CEQA on that project, it’s not a done deal,” he said. “We’re just trying to find out what the problems are so we can address those issues. We try to address as many of those problems beforehand, but we can’t always anticipate them all.”

Taylor said that comments received from the town have already spurred further study of the proposed tank site and additional mitigation measures, including planting trees to screen the tank from Donner Lake Road and Interstate 80.

Other Donner Lake residents at the district’s June 1 board meeting were unenthusiastic about Farrantine’s request that the tank site be moved.

Emilie Kashtan, chair of the newly-formed Donner Lake Community Association, was concerned about additional construction costs that would be associated with the alternate site.

“From the data we’ve received to date, it appears that this new site could cost the people of Donner Lake a significant amount of money. We also have concerns of cutting down a lot of trees which would be required on the new site and which is not required on the proposed site,” she said.

Because the district’s proposed tank site sits on Town of Truckee property, the town will also be involved in the decision, and Town Manager Tony Lashbrook said that his office has already sent a letter to the district commenting on the district’s plans for the new water tank. Lashbrook said that he hopes the town and community can work cooperatively with the district to address the concerns raised about visual impacts and water quality in nearby streams and Donner Lake while at the same time allowing the district to complete the project that is integral to the Donner Lake water system.

“We’re trying to repair a third-world water system,” Lashbrook said. “And it’s certainly in the community’s interest to have an up-to-date water system at Donner Lake. That being said, the components of that system need to be designed appropriately.”

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