Truckee evades watercraft ban decision
A Truckee Town Council subcommittee backed away from its recommendations last week for restrictions on Donner Lake, although letters from state and a private consultant have indicated that the water quality of the lake may be threatened by two-cycle engines.
Town council considered the new information and a revised recommendation by the subcommittee before authorizing formation of a committee of resident “stakeholders” to seek a compromise plan to preserve the health of Donner Lake.
In the crowded council meeting, dozens of people on both sides of the issue spoke during public comment on the subcommittee recommendation, and the council approved the revised recommendation unanimously.
The subcommittee’s initial recommendations would have placed a speed limit of 10 mph before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. on Saturdays, and would have enacted a 10 mph speed limit all day Sunday, as well as any holiday Mondays. That would have effectively eliminated skiing, wakeboarding and personal watercraft use during the 10 mph periods,. That plan prompted a flood of protests from residents.
Although the council did not approve the new speed limits, it did propose strict enforcement for violations of the existing lake ordinances – a “zero-tolerance” policy similar to that recently adopted by the Animal Control department.
The new residents’ committee will be responsible for building a consensus and generating short-term and long-term plans for boat use on the lake.
Just hours before the council meeting June 3, letters arrived from the State Department of Health Services and Donner Lake Water Co. engineers, expressing concern about the dangers of further MTBE contamination in the lake.
“Greater MTBE contamination of Donner Lake is a matter of concern because the Donner Lake Water Co. provides the domestic water supply to more than 1,200 residences and businesses around Donner Lake, and the lake is the system’s main source of water,” Health Services Department District Engineer Jess Morehouse Jr. noted in a letter to the water company. “The department is concerned that increased use of two-cycle watercraft on Donner Lake may cause the concentration of MTBE and other petroleum pollutants in the water supply to exceed drinking water standards.”
Morehouse said pollution is a great concern in the summer, when more residents are at the lake and watercraft activity is at its highest point.
He urged the water company to consider a number of actions, including:
– Support of a ban on two-stroke watercraft similar to the one on Lake Tahoe.
– Support of a limitation on the numbers of all watercraft that can be on the lake at one time.
– Establishing a protective zone to exclude boat traffic around the water company’s lake intake.
– Extending the water intake to a deeper location further from the shoreline.
– Establishing a contingency plan to cope with MTBE pollution of the water supply or with a water supply shortage.
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