Squaw Valley: Can We Really Trust What Is Going On?

Squaw Valley Martis Water Grab

We’ve been able to avoid Squaw Valley politics for awhile at UnofficialAlpine.com. It’s been awfully quiet over the ridge, leading many to speculate on exactly what’s going on. As it turns out, we still have much to be worried about.

The Squaw Valley Public Service District elected today to pursue the 8-Mile Pipe option to import water from Martis Valley as the best option for a redundant source of water for Olympic Valley. We’ve written about the 8-Mile Pipe several times. Here’s a refresher:

• It would import water to the Squaw Valley Public Service District from the Martis Valley aquifer, reportedly only as a secondary backup source of water for the District. There has been much discussion regarding water studies that show there is enough water already in Olympic Valley to support KSL’s proposed over-development in the valley.

The last estimated cost for the project in 2009 was $30 million. The pipe would likely be routed along West River Street and Highway 89. Plans would call for sharing the costs with other utilities which may also choose to extend services to Olympic Valley. It would be a major construction project that would be likely to affect recreation and traffic flows in the corridor for quite some time.

The meeting of the SVPSD Water & Sewer Committee this week reviewed the Phase II alternatives that might serve as a secondary source of water for Customers in Olympic Valley. The other sources under consideration were:

  • The north fork of Squaw Creek (aka Shirley Creek)
  • The south fork of Squaw Creek
  • Drilling horizontal wells in the north flank of Olympic Valley
  • Drilling horizontal wells in the south flank of Olympic Valley
  • Additional surface storage of water in Squaw Creek
  • Waste water treatment and reuse
  • Securing water from the Alpine Springs Water District in Alpine Meadows

The complete memo that describes all 7 of the alternative options is available on the SVPSD site.

By rejecting the options explored in Phase II, the District will now move into Phase III, which is a pursuit of the 8-Mile Pipe option to secure a secondary source of water from Martis Valley groundwater. Until last September, groundwater pumping in California was largely unregulated. New legislation signed in September requires that local districts control use of groundwater, and allows the State to step in when necessary to protect the resource. The actual regulations for groundwater use may take years to actually take shape.

Since we started covering the 8-Mile pipe story back in 2013, more concern has developed over the groundwater supply in Martis Valley. A fourth year of drought means that surface sources all around the Tahoe basin may be strained in the coming years, and there is no guarantee that Martis Valley will be able to meet the needs of an over-developed Olympic Valley. It’s an issue that affects all of us that live outside of Olympic Valley that bears watching.

In Other Squaw Valley News…

Efforts to “Save Olympic Valley” have been resumed. The month of December was a quiet month in terms of saving Olympic Valley from the possibility that the community might organize to form the town of Olympic Valley. Thank god that Squaw Valley is there to save the community from itself!

moneyThe most recent posting at the Placer County Elections office show that Squaw Valley donated another $25,000 of cash to keep the Save Olympic Valley campaign alive. They also donated another few thousand dollars in non-cash contributions. Although the pace of spending has slowed considerably over the last two months, the fact is that Squaw Valley has now spent very close to half of a million dollars fighting the will of the people in Olympic Valley, and that’s before the election process has even begun. Are you still feeling good about paying $124 for a lift ticket over the holiday period?

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