CANDIDATES SPEAK: SQUAW VALLEY PUBLIC SERVICE DISTRICT
October 22, 2008
Sheehan: Failure is an inadequate word to characterize the Aquifer Storage and Recovery project. The overall project plan was to drill a test well, T6, in the far east end of the meadow to evaluate the depth and storage capacity of the aquifer at that location. The unfortunate result from the drilling of the test well was that the aquifer depth was only half the depth of the west end of the valley. Therefore, it was determined that the potential storage volume was too low for the proposed storage and recovery project to succeed. The benefits of the project were the new geological data regarding the eastern section of the Squaw Valley aquifer. More importantly, it had been assumed that 4,000 acre-feet of water was potentially available. This test well determined that this assumption is false. This information is critical to any aquifer model and assessment of maximum seasonal availability of potable water for Squaw Valley. The water available in the aquifer is finite and depends on the seasonal runoff from the rain and snow pack in the mountains surrounding Squaw Valley. Additional water supply will have to come from outside the valley.
O’Keefe: There are two grant-funded studies that will both monitor the existing wells and conduct an interaction study of the aquifer stream in Squaw Valley. Until these studies begin to tell us more about the water situation in Squaw Valley, I cannot say that I support any boosting of the water supply at all. Phase 2 of the Resort at Squaw Creek project is currently under review by the Squaw Valley Public Utility District. Their project proposes an additional well and increased pumping of an existing well. This would increase the districts overall water production.
Gustafson: The water recovery project that you assumed failed in December 2007 was not a total failure. This Aquatic Storage Recovery project determined that the Squaw Valley aquifer did not have a deep gravel-filled hole as it was previously thought. To continue and conclude the ongoing well pumping versus Squaw Creek interaction studies, I believe that the safe yield of the aquifer may have been exceeded since you cannot have safe yield when the in-stream flow of Squaw Creek is being depleted making it unsuitable for aquatic life and other beneficial uses and public trust protection. Rather than boosting the water supply I feel that water conservation efforts should be practiced by all the well pumpers in Squaw Valley including the mutual water company and the Resort at Squaw Creek’s golf course.
Wilcox: Our district and others have already spent huge sums of money trying to find additional water supply in Squaw Valley without success. Other than continuing and enhancing our conservation efforts already underway and rehabilitating an old well, I do not recommend the district spend any significant amounts of money to boost the water supply. Today there is only a small and very limited amount of water available for additional homes and small developments. For any large new development in Squaw Valley, the developer and not the existing customers will have to bear the cost of finding and supplying additional water.
Poulsen: That is a good question. First, we need to conserve our existing water resources. I would continue the public education program for water conservation, update our processes on finding water leaks, tighten up our water systems and then continue to revise water saving and irrigation ordinances and revise rate structures to make them more conservation friendly. Next, I would update our existing facilities to make them more water efficient. And, then I would continue to look for new sources, consider future water treatment for new sources if needed, consider importing water from outside sources and then consider purchasing water from private owners and entities who have water rights and sources. We need to look into all options.
Sheehan: One of the specified beneficiaries of the existing Community Benefit Fund is for the enhancement of Squaw Creek. A recommendation would be to use a portion of this fund to underwrite a definitive study to evaluate the relationship, if any, between pumping down of the aquifer and the seasonal drying up of Squaw Creek.
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O’Keefe: The community benefit fund from the Phase 2 project of the Resort at Squaw Creek is already earmarked for the Squaw Creek Restoration Project. It is most likely that the overseeing organization will be the Truckee River Watershed Council working in tandem with the Friends of Squaw Creek. The funds will both aid in completing and maintaining the project, so the funds may be indefinitely dedicated to this. If, in the future, there are additional funds available, it is possible that they may be dedicated to projects such as enhancement of the park and the Squaw Valley Institute, both of which I support.
Gustafson: I would like to see funding for the implementation of the restoration of Squaw Creek Meadow, which would raise the water level in the aquifer and keep more water in the aquifer and creek longer. I would like to make sure that our fire department has all of the latest emergency fire and medical equipment it needs.
Wilcox: I would recommend a community benefit fund, if such a fund existed, be used to fund additional study of the relationships between well pumping, the aquifer and the creek, and if additional funds were available beyond that, I suggest they be spent on improving Squaw Creek, improvements to Squaw Valley Park and the proposed new Olympic Heritage Museum.
Poulsen: We do not have a community benefit fund.
Sheehan: The Squaw Valley PSD is run in a highly efficient business manner. It provides oversight for the use of water for household use and fire protection. It also oversees a first class fire department, as well as provisions for sewer and trash service. I believe we should get request better support from Placer County in Auburn; e.g. better snow plowing by the County of the Valley’s roads. It appears that the Valley is regarded as the “long lost cousins over the hill.” Additionally, the PSD agency should be actively looking for long term additional sources of water outside the Valley as the time is now to evaluate alternative long term solutions before we are in extremes. Examples of these proactive pursuits could include a pipeline to the large aquifer in Martis Valley or perhaps the use of water from the Truckee River for fire protection.
O’Keefe: If elected, I think I can improve the public service agency by making a bigger effort to stay in touch with the average Squaw Valley citizen. I would like to create more involvement in the decision making from the locals in Squaw Valley. I believe this can be accomplished by doing things like making phone calls to property owners, setting up a table at the post office or even going door to door. I also think it is time to bring a new voice to the agency.
Gustafson: I would try to make it more convenient for more people to attend board meetings. I would listen to the voice of the people and try to curb spending. Squaw Valley has bee my full-time residence since 1963 and I am concerned about the environmental decline of the meadow and creek.
Wilcox: If re-elected, I would continue to support the adequate funding of our Asset Replacement Fund and our water conservation efforts. I would also support the district consider, if needed, assisting our neighboring water system, the Squaw Valley Mutual Water Co. as long as such assistance did not cost our present rate payers and was beneficial to the overall community. Finally, I would support the district becoming involved in operating Squaw Valley Park providing that a fair agreement could be reached with Placer County.
Poulsen: As a long-time resident of Squaw Valley and a past and present board member, I bring a wealth of history and experience to the board. I am in business here, I have family here. I enjoy working with people and I love our Squaw Valley community. Our district provides the sewer, fire, garbage and most water services within the valley and we will have many complex issues to be decided upon as we move forward. I think that my local knowledge and experience in the decision making process will help to improve our district.