Attorney General Files Environmental Protection Action Against Squaw Valley Ski Resort
(LAKE TAHOE, Calif.) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer today, along with the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, filed a civil lawsuit demanding that Squaw Valley USA comply with environmental protection laws and stop harming water quality in a sensitive Sierra Nevada ecosystem.
The lawsuit accuses the Lake Tahoe area ski resort of violating federal, state and local environmental protection laws over a period of years, eroding the mountainside and degrading the water quality of Squaw Creek and its tributary waterways.
"Squaw Valley USA has refused to follow environmental protection laws and take steps necessary to prevent sediment runoff into area waterways," Lockyer said. "The Tahoe ski resort must be held accountable for its continued disregard of water quality and other environmental standards designed to protect precious Sierra Nevada natural resources."
Harold Singer, Lahontan water board executive officer, added: "The regional board believes this action is necessary to obtain compliance with water quality laws. It is unfortunate that, despite the many actions the regional board has already taken over the years, Squaw Valley USA continues its pattern of violations."
The lawsuit was filed in Placer County Superior Court on behalf of the Lahontan water board and in the Attorney General's independent capacity to enforce the state Unfair Competition Law. The complaint seeks a court-enforceable order to remediate environmental damage and prevent future violations of law, as well as civil penalties and other appropriate monetary relief.
The lawsuit alleges that Squaw Valley USA constructed ski lifts, ski trails and other infrastructure without obtaining required permits or in violation of permit condition, and causing excessive erosion on the mountain and sedimentation of adjacent waterways. These practices violate California's Porter-Cologne Water Quality Act, and constitute unlawful business practices.
The runoff from the ski resort drains into Squaw Creek, which empties into the Truckee River. Both water bodies are listed by California and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as "impaired" due to excessive sediment loads. The Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, which regulates pollution discharges from Lake Tahoe area ski resorts, contends that Squaw Valley USA failed to comply with its waste discharge permits and degraded waters affected by the ski resort's operations.