Squaw Valley water issues remain a concern | SierraSun.com

Squaw Valley water issues remain a concern

Joanna Hartman
Sierra Sun

Some Squaw Valley residents and water district board members are concerned with the impact of water pumping on Squaw Creek.

While the Squaw Valley Public Services District is addressing issues with added pumping as part of the expansion of the Resort at Squaw Creek, some residents are worried that the district is not addressing the total current pumping impacts.

“If we have a problem today, we’ll have a bigger problem in the future,” said John Moberly, a board director.

Water quality and availability, as well as creek preservation, have been an issue in Squaw Valley in recent years. There is not enough readily available high quality water, said Rick Lierman, the district’s general manager. There is 4,000 acre feet of water in the basin, but only 1,560 acre feet of easily treatable, quality water, Lierman said.

In regard to the Resort at Squaw Creek’s 200-plus condominium project, area residents raised concerns about the true impacts of the development.

Moberly said he doesn’t believe there is enough information regarding the impact on the creek with the current pumping, let alone with expanded pumping.

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“We are not evaluating the current pumping impacts,” said Lierman. “What we are evaluating is what happens when we add to pumping.”

It may be necessary to delay the resort project in order to add more test wells and collect further data to fully understand the impact of pumping on the creek, Moberly said.

“I believe that pumping at some point may have some sort of impact,” said Cam Kicklighter, the representative for the resort. “But [we] haven’t reached that point yet.”

Other factors that impact the aquifer include snowpack, rate of snowmelt and precipitation, said Kicklighter.

The resort must file an application with the district to obtain a building permit from Placer County before proceeding with the condos. The district is proceeding with the project on two fronts, said Lierman.

First, the district’s consultant is evaluating the resort’s proposed pumping plan to evaluate impact on existing wells, the creek, shallow groundwater and the meadow. The report has been submitted and results will be completed in time for the October board meeting, Lierman said.

Second, the district and the resort will meet to follow up and discuss issues such as such as district cost, irrigation rollback, water blending, a future water treatment site, community benefit fees and connection fees, before giving the resort the go-ahead.