Mt. Effluent: Ski Resort To Use Wastewater For Snow

Photo Credit: Arizona Snowbowl

Who doesn’t love to go skiing and feel one with the environment? Well now you can feel even more eco-friendly when swooping down the slopes at the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort. Read this great article by Water Online to learn more!

A ski resort in Arizona seeks to be the first in the world to rely completely on treated wastewater for artificial snow production, but is facing opposition from environmental groups and Native American tribes, according to the Daily Mail.

In an effort to save drinking water, the Arizona Snowbowl resort has arranged the purchase of 1.5 million gallons of reclaimed wastewater per day from nearby Flagstaff to provide source water for snow-making on the San Francisco Peaks. Although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency deems the water safe, environmental groups such as the Sierra Club and the Save the Peaks Coalition have concerns over its safety and impact, and some Native Americans view the mountain range as sacred ground.

Environmentalists point to studies by the U.S. Geological Survey and Northern Arizona University stating that treated water may still contain trace levels of contaminants. Furthermore, a U.S. Agricultural Research Service study reported that the health and environmental impacts of reclaimed effluent for irrigation use are “largely unknown.”

Due to the protests and ongoing legal action, the resort’s reclaimed water system has been on hold since 2005. But now, despite the pending appeal of a September 2010 court decision upholding the contract between the City of Flagstaff and the Arizona Snowbowl, construction has begun.

With water scarcity a growing problem and revenue in short supply for municipalities, do you see this form of wastewater reuse as innovative and sustainable, or short-sighted and irresponsible? What other applications do you recommend and envision for recycled wastewater? Share your comments below . . .

By Kevin Westerling, Editor of Water Online