LAKE COMMITTEE— E.coli probe continues
Immediately after the E. coli outbreak at Commodore Beach, members of the LWA staff, Board and Lake Committee met with representatives of the Nevada County Departments of Public Health, Environmental Health, Public Works and Community Development. Public Works main concern was to test the integrity of the sewer system around Commodore Park. The County Sanitation District falls under the administrative control of Public Works. The lead department of the investigation is the County Health Department, and they are working in close concert with Environmental Health. Both fall under the administrative umbrella of Community Development. In addition, Public Health and Environmental Health have elicited help from the Center for Disease Control, UC Davis, the California Public Health Department and Placer County Labs. Each of these agencies has unique expertise and testing capabilities not available locally. It was agreed at the onset that all official communications regarding this investigation would come either from the County Department of Health or the Lake Wildwood Administration. The reason for this is simply to ensure the accuracy of the updates.
As you can imagine, the participation of so many agencies and people has both a real upside and some downside as well. It brings to bear very sophisticated and expensive testing capabilities that would otherwise be lacking. Genetic typing is complex as well as way beyond our local budget. The testing of E. coli O157:H7 strains falls under that umbrella. The downside is that the more people involved in the chain of the investigation, the slower the process becomes.
We are at a point now where the most obvious and logical causes of the outbreak have been investigated and the trail is cool there. We are now entering a more complex phase which requires more time and testing. We are still waiting for results of the tests to see if the E. coli O157:H7 found in the one goose scat sample matches the strain found in those who contracted the disease. In addition, a total of only three samples of goose scat is clearly not enough to make a reasonable scientifically valid conclusion about the extent of the infected goose population. It is quite possible that some of that data will be updated before this article runs on September 15th. Bottom line is the duration and scope of this investigation is unknown at this time and, in many ways, out of our hands.
Meanwhile, we are preparing to lower the lake, and the target is to remove approximately 27,000 cubic yards of silt that accumulated during last year’s storm event. This is going to be expensive, not only from the sheer volume to be removed, but from the cost increases for just about every facet of the process. The cost this year could well exceed $500K. The last time we removed a significant amount of silt was in 2011 and that was 12,700 yards. This all, of course, depends on the weather. An early rainy season again this fall would seriously limit the ability to remove that much volume of material. Our Facilities department is also doing some minor repairs to the spillway, but that cost is estimated under $30K. Dam and release equipment monitoring and maintenance is an ongoing yearly event and mostly completed at this time.
By Terry Thies, Chair
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