Opinion: Just the facts from the Squaw Valley PSD | SierraSun.com

Opinion: Just the facts from the Squaw Valley PSD

Mike Geary
Special to the Sun

The Squaw Valley Public Service District continues to plan a project to provide its customers with a redundant water supply source from Martis Valley as an emergency back-up source.

This plan is in pursuit to fulfill the District’s mission to provide a safe, reliable water supply to our existing customers. Residents and businesses in Squaw Valley currently have only one source of water, and without a backup supply, they are unacceptably vulnerable.

If our sole source is compromised by extended drought or contamination, there is currently no alternative or back-up supply. Every water provider in this region has a back-up, emergency or redundant, water supply except for the Squaw Valley PSD and two other small water districts, similarly isolated from infrastructure necessary to connect our water systems.

It’s important to the District that the facts about our plans are clearly communicated and that the public has accurate information to form opinions. Here are some facts:

“It’s discouraging to see a group intentionally or unintentionally mislead the public and distort the truth about the project to sway public opinion and build support against development in the Village.”

Fact 1: The PSD’s plan to construct a redundant water supply source from Martis Valley is NOT to enable new development.

All new large development in Squaw must provide its own primary source of water; no future development is relying on a supplemental water supply from Martis Valley for its primary source of water.

Careful and conservative assessments and modeling show that the proposed Village expansion has sufficient water supply from the aquifer under the land owned by the developer. To verify this, the District had its supply and demand analyses peer-reviewed by a qualified independent third party.

Fact 2: The District does not make land use decisions in Squaw Valley.

Placer County has jurisdiction over what is approved for construction in Squaw Valley. Although supplemental water supply can induce growth, it is NOT why the District is pursuing this project; decisions to approve additional growth are made by Placer County — not the PSD.

Fact 3: The District is compelled to provide a safe, reliable water supply in support of public health and safety.

Fact 4: The PSD will NOT construct a water supply project from Martis Valley if it jeopardizes the supply needed by our companion water purveyors in Truckee or if it negatively impacts the natural environment.

Fact 5: We will collaborate with partners to coordinate the project with installation of underground high speed fiber-optic cable and natural gas to homes and businesses in Squaw Valley, along with a Class 1 bike trail connection between Squaw and Truckee.

A water pipeline will allow installation of fire hydrants along the Truckee River corridor, providing significantly improved fire suppression capability for residences along the Truckee River as well as the wildland flanking the highway.

Natural gas in Squaw Valley will improve public safety by eradicating propane tanks and by reducing the risk of transporting propane in / out of the valley.

The District’s plan faces many challenges including funding, public outreach/education, assessment of environmental impacts, and the timing of our planning relative to the proposed Village at Squaw Valley Specific Plan.

The timing of this project spurs the District to ramp-up its public outreach as groups opposed to development link the need for a redundant water supply source to the proposed Village expansion.

The project pre-dates not only the proposal to expand the Village, but also the purchase of the ski area by KSL.

So, in reference to the opinion piece in the Sierra Sun from Tom Mooers of Sierra Watch last week, it’s discouraging to see a group intentionally or unintentionally mislead the public and distort the truth about the project to sway public opinion and build support against development in the Village.

We respectfully encourage such special interest groups to pursue their objectives without jeopardizing the basic public health and safety of the residents and businesses in Squaw Valley; without misleading the public about the project; without distorting the truth; without leveraging innuendo and fear; and without impugning the integrity of the Squaw Valley Public Service District staff or its Board of Directors.

We encourage this group to use fact and science to accomplish its mission, to stop inferring that the Redundant Water Supply Project is somehow related to the proposed Village expansion, and to develop a deeper understanding of both the importance and the impacts of the District’s plans to provide a safe and reliable water supply to its existing customers.

If you have any questions, comments or concerns, or need any additional information, please see our website’s Current Topics page at http://www.svpsd.org or call me at 530-583-4692.

Mike Geary is General Manager of the Squaw Valley Public Service District. He may be reached for comment at mgeary@svpsd.org.