Squaw Valley Public Service District is considering a plan to develop a backup water supply from the Martis Valley aquifer, a plan rooted in our mission to provide a safe, reliable water supply to our existing customers. Currently, there is only one source of water in our valley and without a backup supply, we are unacceptably vulnerable. If this source or the system pumping it fails, there is currently no alternative supply.

SVPSD exists entirely to serve existing customers in our district while also being good stewards of our environment. We share our community’s commitment to keeping Olympic Valley beautiful and safe for all who call this area home. To that end, SVPSD has, and will continue to, explore alternatives in supplying safe, clean water to our customers.


There are two points to clarify about current well capacity and the potential to drill more wells in the Dec. 13, 2013 article (“Squaw Valley Eyes Martis Valley’s Water”). First, it is possible now to drill additional wells in the aquifer under Squaw Valley meadow and the ski resort parking lot. This was not the case when the 2009 study was prepared. The total number of wells under consideration will be based on the water supply assessment required of KSL’s development plan. Second, drilling more wells in the aquifer we currently use will produce additional water; however, we will not know how much water until completion of the water supply assessment, which is expected this spring.

Our district’s responsibility to supply water is separate from any construction or development plans within the valley. Counties and their citizens make decisions to approve or deny development projects. Districts like ours have a legal duty to serve water to approved projects in the interest of public health and safety; we must continue to explore water supply options to fulfill that obligation.  

A connection to the Martis Valley aquifer would provide the redundant supply Squaw Valley residents need to assure a safe, reliable water supply. It is an expensive option but it yields benefits beyond simply providing an alternate water supply in the event the Olympic Valley aquifer became unusable. Pipeline construction would be coordinated with installation of underground high speed fiber optic cable and natural gas lines to homes and businesses in Squaw Valley. In the same easement, a bike trail could be constructed along Highway 89 between Truckee and Squaw Valley. A water pipeline would 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.

Potential fire safety benefits make this plan very attractive. In addition to the aesthetic benefits of removing propane tanks from every lot in Squaw Valley and reducing the risk of explosion due to the physical properties of propane, a natural gas pipeline would eliminate the need for highway transport of millions of gallons of liquid propane annually. 

Despite all of the good reasons for relying on Martis Valley for a redundant water supply, such decisions are never made in a vacuum and we must respect the Martis Valley environment, too. The public will be included in any and all phases of evaluating this alternative. As required by law, a thorough environmental impact assessment will be conducted, including opportunity for public comment. Squaw Valley Public Service District will hold numerous public meetings about developing a redundant water supply and we will continue to explore all possible options. Our website will contain all of our detailed study results, public comments, and all information relevant to this project. We encourage the public to express their opinions and raise issues and questions.

~ Mike Geary is the general manager of the Squaw Valley Public Service District.


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