Donner State Park opening may be delayed due to pipe test

TRUCKEE - A sewer pipe test stands between Donner State Park's $1.3 million restroom renovation and a planned Memorial Day opening.

The pipes do not leak now, but Ray Patton, acting district superintendent for the California State Parks Sierra District, said a state-mandated test could burst the pipes.

"There's no indication that they (the pipes) are leaking," Patton said. "One concern is with testing - that they (the pipes) will burst."

The connection pipes were supposed to be replaced, according to the original scope of the renovation project.

"If the lines test fine, we'll open as planned," he said. "If they don't, then we'll have to shut down and fix it."

Although the state mandates the test, the process is overseen by the Truckee Sanitary District.

The test, which Patton estimated will cost the state park $5,000 to $6,000, looks for two potential problems: waste leaking out of the lines or water leaking into the lines.

The renovation project, which replaces six restroom buildings and the fixtures, began in August , closing the campground earlier than usual.

Truckee Donner Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Lynn Saunders decried the early closing date that summer, saying it would mean a substantial revenue loss for local businesses.

The renovation was supposed to be complete December 2003, but due to early snowfall, contractors had to halt work on the project sooner than planned, Patton said.

"Right now there is too much snow," he said. "We can't work on it until the snow is clear."

If everything goes smoothly, the park should open as it normally would Memorial Day weekend, with one loop and one restroom ready for the public, Patton said.

Patton estimated the cost to replace the pipes could be $125,000 - money the state's suffering budget may not be able to provide to Donner Memorial State Park, though there is some "breathing room" in the project's budget.

However, closing the campground for any period of time would mean substantial revenue loss for Donner Memorial.

Also, according to the Truckee Donner Chamber of Commerce research (from summer 2003), average visitors spend $581 over the course of their trip and opening the park late could amount to a loss for the town.


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