“They’re taking water samples every day and having them tested. When the tests indicate the water is safe for human consumption, the ban will be lifted.” Placer County Public Relations Director Robert Miller
Squaw Valley’s upper mountain may be open for skiing but if you were wondering why the restaurant facilities at High Camp and Gold Coast are closed, we’ve got some news for you.
Coliform and E. coli bacteria have been detected in the drinking water at Squaw Valley’s upper mountain and Placer Country Environmental Health has known about it since November 8th according to The Sierra Sun.
Squaw Valley did an extensive update on their water system over the summer and an unusually severe rainstorm after its completion is suspected to be the culprit for the contamination, but the exact circumstances have not been made clear. Squaw Valley Public Relations Director Liesl Kenney opted for an email statement when contacted by The Sun:
“Over the summer, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows conducted an extensive water system upgrade to the wells servicing the High Camp and Gold Coast facilities at Squaw Valley. In order to meet the very latest design standards, existing well-head apparatus was relocated from underground vaults to above-ground secure well-houses and supply pipelines were replaced in order to diminish risk of surface water intrusion. After the system was certified, tested and returned to service, the region received 9.5 inches of precipitation over a 72 hour period. With the inundation of excess precipitation, water professionals and engineers have required supplemental water sample testing.”
Kenney went on in the email to quote Squaw Valley Public Service District General Manager Mike Gear:
“Given that Squaw Valley Resort recently completed construction of their updated water supply and distribution systems and subsequently received significantly above average rainfall, these results are not surprising.”
Not exactly forthcoming with the dirty details but what do you expect from a PR director dealing with such a nasty problem. The water has been treated consistently since Nov. 8th and is showing improvement (initially it wasn’t potable for anything.)
Currently three out of the four wells that serve upper mountain are showing low levels of coliform and no traces of E. coli. Coliform covers a large spectrum of bacteria, some of which are not harmful. When water tests positive for Coliform but negative for E. coli, it can be used in restrooms but not for drinking (don’t drink out of the faucet up there!)
So when will it be clean enough for consumption? Wesley Nicks can only speculate:
“We’ve got our fingers crossed, hopefully it’s pretty soon. … The fourth well, they don’t absolutely need it, so if it’s kind of stubborn, they can just keep it offline until it gets resolved.”
Until the problem is resolved only prepackaged food and water will be sold and the restaurant facilities will remain closed.
….better get your Starbucks in the village until they sort this out.