Squaw Valley is expecting a good year. Snowfall should be perfect, according to some weather forecasts. Other ski areas may receive more snow, but Squaw Valley will get enough snow to make the skiers happy and make the resort profitable. Squaw Valley has been a profit generator for more than 60 years. There have been some dry years and those years were not very profitable, but when all the years are put together, Squaw Valley is a very financially sound organization. Some of the credit for the financial stability of Squaw Valley goes to Andy Wirth, the current CEO of Squaw Valley. The Cushing family is responsible for opening the resort, and making it one of the most recognizable ski resorts on the planet. But Andy Wirth has nurtured the resort through a 2010 expansion and the current $1 billion expansion project that is expected to begin shortly. Squaw Valley has more than 60 restaurants, bars, retail shops and boutiques on the property. The new expansion project will add more shops and restaurants, and more than 1,500 hotel rooms and condos.
Wirth is a capable executive, with years of ski experience. He worked for the Steamboat Springs ski resort for 18 years. When Wirth heard the news that four upper mountain wells were contaminated by an October rain, he didn’t panic. The upper mountain of Squaw Valley got 9.5 inches of rain in a 72-hour period in October. When the staff tested the water after the torrential rain, harmful bacteria were discovered in the four wells. Wirth immediately went into action, and he shut down the wells. The four wells supplied drinking water to the High Camp and Gold Coast areas of the resort. Wirth also closed the restaurant facilities in that section of the resort.
Liesl Kenney, the PR Director of Squaw Valley released a statement about the flooding and the contaminated wells. Kenney said coliform and E. coli bacteria were found in all four wells. The Environmental Health Department of Placer County and the Squaw Valley Utility District were notified. Kenney also told the Sierra Sun that other health experts were called in to help with the well clean up. According to Kenney, the resort gave skiers free bottled water, and no one at the resort was exposed to the harmful bacteria. She said the four wells aren’t needed because of the other water systems that operated within the resort.
Three of the four wells were inspected after the initial treatments, and the E. coli bacteria was gone, but a low level of coliform was still present. The wells will be inactive until all signs of harmful bacteria are gone, according to Kenney. Even though finding E. coli in a water source is always dangerous, the threat to the skiers at Squaw Valley was nonexistent. The staff followed the correct procedures. Kenney didn’t say when or if the wells would be active again. The resort is functioning without them. The skiers don’t care. There’s plenty of drinking water for all the guests and plenty of frozen water on the slopes.