By law, ski areas own 75% of water rights on federal land where they are permitted to operate. So, the Forest Service owns all the land, but not much of the water. Associate Deputy Chief of the Forest Service, Jim Pena.
PENA: "As time goes on, these water rights become more valuable and more important not just to the operation of that permitted activity, the skiing, but potentially other economic uses."
Pena says the Forest Service fears water rights could be sold. The Forest Service is trying to get back rights it says that ski areas acquired without proper permitting. The National Ski Areas Association sued the Forest Service and a Judge ordered the government to seek public comment. There is a public hearing in Tahoe City today to satisfy the judge's order. New rules are expected to be issued early next year and finalized in Fall of 2014.