Squaw Valley, site of 1960 Winter Olympics, sued over water

LAKE TAHOE, Calif. (AP) -- California sued Squaw Valley USA Thursday, alleging the ski resort that hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics is harming the water quality in a sensitive Sierra Nevada area.

The suit accuses the resort of violating federal, state and local environmental protection laws for years by eroding the mountainside and hurting the water quality of Squaw Creek and its tributaries. The streams flow into the Truckee River, which has a sedimentation problem.

"We've tried to explain to them we have not had any adverse effect on the water quality," responded Nancy Wendt, president of Squaw Valley Ski Corp. On average, the water that leaves the resort's boundaries exceeds drinking-water standards, she said.

However, the suit by Attorney General Bill Lockyer and the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board alleges Squaw Valley built ski lifts, ski trails, a gondola, drainage culverts and parking lots without obtaining proper permits, or violated those permits by allowing excessive erosion and runoff.

It asks the Placer County Superior Court to order the 4,200-acre mountain resort to stop the pollution, fix the damage, and pay an unspecified civil fine.

"It is unfortunate that, despite the many actions the regional board has taken over the years, Squaw Valley USA continues its pattern of violations," water board executive director Harold Singer said in a statement announcing the suit.

Wendt said previously that the resort spends more than $200,000 a year on environmental improvements. She said the resort offered to spend $2 million over 10 years as part of a program called "Greening of Squaw Valley," and recently boosted the offer to $4 million over 15 years.


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