Daily Mail: If you have ever needed an incentive not to fall over while skiing, this could be it.
An American ski resort is planning to use 180 million gallons of recycled waste to create artificial snow and top up the quantities of the white stuff delivered by Mother Nature. The Arizona Snowbowl resort, in the state's San Francisco Peaks, is going to use the waste water collected from treated sewage in a bid to avoid wasting clean drinking water when making snow.
Reclaimed water from a wastewater treatment plant in Flagstaff will be sold to the resort to produce the fake snow. The treated water will be pumped 15 miles to San Francisco Peaks where it will be stored in a reservoir. From there it can be sprayed through large fans into the cold air to provide artificial snow for the slopes.
Arizona Snowbowl has the go-ahead for its plan but is running into opposition on environmental grounds and from Native American tribes who consider the peaks sacred ground and consider the idea disgusting. Klee Benally, 35, a Navajo, said: 'Our identity is based on our relationship with these sacred places and this - having the source of our spiritual renewal become so contaminated and desecrated - is a direct threat to our survival.'
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says reclaimed water is safe for use provided it is treated.
But some environmentalists quote studies from the U.S. Geological Survey and Northern Arizona University which report that treated water may still contain pharmaceuticals, hormones, industrial pollutants, carcinogens and a wide range of organic chemicals. Snowbowl would be the first resort in the world to use 100 per cent waste water to make its snow, and critics have raised concerns that it was unwise to approve the plan without fully understanding the long-term impacts.
A 2007 study from the US Agricultural Research Service found the environmental and public health impacts of using reclaimed effluent for irrigation 'are largely unknown'. Environmentalist Andy Bessler of the Sierra Club said: 'When you put these substances into a delicate alpine environment like the Peaks, there are going to be big impacts to amphibians, other animals and the soil.'
Legal action has stalled the reclaimed water system since 2005, and another appeal is still pending, but the Snowbowl has begun construction. Lawyer Howard Shanker, who represents the Save the Peaks Coalition said: 'While the appeal is pending, the government and Snowbowl are cutting down trees and putting down pipe as fast as they can.'
Earlier this month the Hopi Tribe filed a lawsuit against the City of Flagstaff challenging the decision in September 2010 not to amend or cancel the contract for the sale of reclaimed wastewater to the ski resort.
The lawsuit states the City’s contract to sell 1.5 million gallons of reclaimed waste water per day to Snowbowl is illegal because it violates several state environmental laws.