WCCSD Weathers Burst Pipes and Frozen Tank During Snow Storm

The controls on Hodgson Tank froze after the December snowstorm, causing the automatic pumps to send thousands of gallons of water into the already-full tank. / Photo courtesy of Lonnie Danel

By KRISTAN KORNS, Two Rivers Tribune

Willow Creek Community Service District (WCCSD) Manager Lonnie Danel reported that cold weather over the past month led to pipe ruptures, control malfunctions, and much higher-than-usual water usage for the month of December.

Danel told the WCCSD Board during their last meeting of the year on Thursday, December 26, that part of the reason for the spike in water usage was because people were leaving a trickle of water running to keep the water in their pipes from freezing. There were also water losses from pipes that did end up bursting.

“We had a 4-inch line give out in Bigfoot Subdivision, and we lost close to 200,000 gallons in that leak,” Danel said. “We also had a problem when a control froze on a tank.”

The frozen control mistakenly reported that the tank was empty, so the pumps turned themselves on automatically to fill the tank that was already full and spilled the overflowing water out onto the ground.

The storm also damaged two trees near Camp Kimtu, which had to be removed.

“We had a very busy month,” Danel said.

Thursday’s Board meeting was the first for new Directors Mike Davis and Joe O’Hara, and long-time Board member Tom O’Gorman suggested they both get a grand tour of WCCSD’s facilities.

“I remember when I was a new Board member,” O’Gorman said. “They drove me around to see everything.”

Danel said, “We’re already getting ready for that.”

Shel Brasanti presented to the Board the results of the latest audit. “I’m happy to report that there were no findings and I have no suggestions to make things better.”

“Looks like everything is under control,” O’Gorman said.

Vice Chair Judy Gower nominated Board Chair Bruce Nelson for another term.

Nelson said, “I’ll stay on if you stay on as Vice Chair.”

Both Gower and Nelson were reelected by a unanimous vote, and local fishing guide and former Chamber of Commerce President Ed Duggan was reappointed as the Board’s representative to the Trinity River Adaptive Management Group (TAMWG), which is working on restoration of the river.

The Board also discussed looking into the possibility of taking on additional powers through the Humboldt LAFCo (Local Agency Formation Commission) process.

Danel said there were over 32 powers that could be taken on by local communities, ranging from law enforcement and fire protection, to sewage treatment, street lighting, and mosquito abatement.

Nelson said, “I agree that we should look at taking on some powers.”

O’Gorman said, “We’ve had three armed robberies in the recent past, I think that’s worth talking about.”

There is current no local law enforcement authority for Willow Creek. Law enforcement assistance is largely provided from either the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, or from the Tribal Police located in nearby Hoopa.

Nelson said, “It would be good to look at what powers the public would like us to take on.”

One of the powers that the WCCSD is already working towards taking on is wastewater treatment. A wastewater treatment plant is in the early planning stage, with planners looking at several possible sites around Willow Creek.

Danel said, “We just sent out a two-page pamphlet to all of our customers downtown with all of the information on the project.”

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