For the last five years, CEO Andy Wirth has been working on a base village expansive program. On November 15, the Placer County Board of Supervisors voted to approve the expansion project. Wirth said the project would add more than 1,500 new hotel rooms, and condos, plus more retail space, restaurants, and a large indoor recreation center. The expansion would be spread across 94 acres at the base of Squaw Valley’s famous snow-covered slopes and trails.
The Squaw Valley ski resort is not the same resort that hosted the 1960s Winter Olympic Games on Facebook, according to Mr. Wirth. Wirth said the resort is much larger now, thanks to the merger with the Alpine Meadows ski resort. He also said the resort got a facelift in 2010. The skiers that come to Squaw Valley these days enjoy more than 60 restaurants, shops, bars, and clothing and shoe boutiques. Squaw Valley was voted the best ski destination in 2016 by two industry magazines. The staff at the resort expects the 2016/2017 season to be one of the best in recent memory. The season got started early, and weather forecasters say the snow should keep coming for months. Skiers should enjoy the slopes well into May if temperatures cooperate.
But the resort did run into a snag in the beginning of October. The upper mountain area was hit with a major rainstorm. More than 9.5 inches of rain fell during a 72-hour period, according to Public Relations Director, Liesl Kenney. Kenney said four of the wells were flooded in the upper mountain area. The four wells tested positive for harmful bacteria, so the two drinking water systems for the Gold Coast and High Camp areas were shut down. The resort did preliminary water tests, and all four wells tested positive for coliform and E. coli bacteria.
According to an article in the Sierra Sun, Squaw Valley’s staff immediately closed the restaurant facilities in those areas of the resort. The staff called the Placer County Environmental Health Department, and the Squaw Valley Utility District, so the wells could be inspected properly.
According to the Sierra Sun, skiing was not interrupted by the contaminated wells. None of the guests were exposed to the bacteria. Liesl Kenney said the two water systems will remain closed until all harmful bacteria is removed from the wells. Three of the wells recently tested negative for E. coli bacteria, but low levels of coliform were still present in those wells.
Squaw Valley should have a great 2016/2017 season. The upper mountain well situation will not compromise the operation of the resort or the ski conditions. In fact, the resort doesn’t need those wells to produce clean drinking water for skiers or the restaurants. There are plenty of other clean water sources available. The health experts expect to rid the four contaminated wells of the bacteria soon, but until the resort gets a green light from the experts the wells will not be part of the clean water system.