Kirkwood fined over wetlands contamination |

Kirkwood fined over wetlands contamination

by Claire Cudahy
A photo taken at the end of April 2016 shows the asphalt road grindings mixed in with snow around Kirkwood Creek.
Courtesy / Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board |

Kirkwood Mountain Resort was fined $754,732 for contamination to a nearby creek discovered last spring.

During the course of routine snow removal on an unpaved parking lot during the 2015-16 winter season, asphalt grindings were picked up in the snow and ultimately made their way into the wetlands around nearby Kirkwood Creek.

In a May 2016 letter to Vail Resorts, inspectors from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife expressed concerns about the impact the asphalt would have on the surface and ground water — and also charged the company with a Clean Water Act violation.

Officials were made aware of the contamination from an anonymous complaint.

Penalties for the fine will be distributed between the two responding agencies, CDFW and the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board for staff costs over the course of the investigation, during the remediation process and for future monitoring. A large chunk of the money — $357,745 — will be placed in a state fund to be used on future aquatic restoration projects benefiting Alpine and Amador County watersheds.

Kevin Cooper, senior communications manager for Kirkwood Mountain Resort, said the resort has been working closely with both agencies since receiving notice of this incident last year.

“We continue to work with the appropriate agencies to conduct ongoing site assessments and remediate impacts to the environment and have consistently updated the Kirkwood community and homeowners regarding this matter,” said Cooper in an email.

He said third party test samplings did not demonstrate any impact on the surrounding groundwater.

“Our remediation efforts exceed cleanup requirements and we will continue to work closely with the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Board and community to complete remediation efforts as quickly as possible,” noted Cooper. “We have already altered our snow removal procedures and will seek opportunities for our employees and contractors to learn from this.”