Opinion: Providing clarity regarding Squaw Valley’s water supply
The proposed Village at Squaw Valley Specific Plan (VSVSP) has generated volumes of evaluations and analyses, and much public discussion about its impacts on our community.
Enmeshed in the information intended to shape public opinion about the project are two misrepresentative claims that are widely distributed and cause the Squaw Valley Public Service District concern.
The first is that the Village Project will strain local water supplies. The second assertion is the PSD is already looking to import water from Martis Valley due to limited supply. These statements are misleading and distort facts and could regrettably result in a public misunderstanding.
The PSD worked diligently over its 52-year history to earn the trust of the community we serve. The PSD’s staff and Board of Directors hold that trust as critically important.
The maintenance of the public’s trust guides our work providing high levels of water, sewer and fire protection services. It’s our beacon as we wade through a period of planning for development at a pace unprecedented since the 1960 Olympics. This is especially true as we evaluate available water supply necessary to support proposed projects.
Misleading information has potential to erode that critical trust our community holds in the work performed by our Board and staff and could create misunderstanding in the public we serve.
The concern was captured at a recent meeting when one of our directors said that, “misleading statements about the Village Project and their effect on the community’s trust of the District and its role in the evaluation of available water supply is very harmful to our reputation in the community.”
Our concern is not the expression of opinion about a development project or a legitimate, data-based challenge to an analysis (which we welcome): it is that public trust may be compromised because of oft-repeated and inaccurate, misleading information.
And while we have striven to correct the record along the way, the PSD believes it’s again time to convey the facts about our water supply:
Local water supply in Squaw Valley is sufficient to supply the proposed VSVSP project and 20 years of additional non-project growth. On behalf of Placer County and using best available science, the PSD prepared the Water Supply Assessment (WSA) for the project.
Understanding the importance of maintaining community trust, we used conservative assumptions and paid to have the results peer‐ reviewed and verified by a licensed independent third-party hydrogeologist.
The WSA was released in July, 2014 during a historic drought in California. So to ensure we were evaluating available water supply in the driest conditions, we started over and updated the WSA in 2015, incorporating data from the four‐year drought into the analyses.
SVPSD is not seeking a redundant water supply to support new development in Squaw Valley. The need for a redundant water supply is for the same reason every other water purveyor seeks or maintains supply redundancy: to guarantee water supply for its customers in emergencies. It’s that simple.
SVPSD identified the need for an alternate water supply and evaluated potential sources — including Martis Valley — in 2009, before the acquisition of Squaw Valley Resort by KSL and long before any discussion of an expanded Village.
In January of 2016, we completed another evaluation to identify a preferred alternative to import water from Martis Valley and concluded that the best option for a redundant water supply is an emergency inter-tie with a purveyor in Truckee.
Emergency inter-ties between independently operated water systems are standard in the industry and even locally. All residents and businesses in our region benefit from having a redundant water supply as an emergency back-up, except those served by a private well or a water provider that is geographically isolated from neighboring water system infrastructure, like the PSD.
It is important to us that our customers and the regional community understand these facts because we cherish and work hard for the trust we earn and think we deserve.
We understand there are a variety of opinions about development in Squaw Valley, Truckee and on the North Shore and the PSD supports a broad understanding of the assorted impacts they’ll bring. To that end, we are here to share information and invite you to http://www.svpsd.org.
Our website has all of the evaluations and analyses we’ve performed to ensure we maintain and protect our ability to provide the high levels of service currently enjoyed by our existing customers and to prepare for proposed development projects.
Mike Geary is general manager of the Squaw Valley Public Service District. Email him at email@example.com.