No drinking water: Flagstaff council upholds original plan for Arizona Snowbowl’s snowmaking

Posted By: The Ski Channel on September 2, 2010 5:33 pm

The Flagstaff City Council voted 5-2 today against selling drinking water to Arizona Snowbowl ski resort for its use in snowmaking plans. Officials instead decided the original approved contract to use treated wastewater was the preferable option.

The decision has to be considered quite a disapointment to ski and snowboard fans, particularly those based in Arizona.

Given the council’s recent decision, it is unlikely any snowmaking will occur anytime soon at Snowbowl given a pending lawsuit against usng wastewater for snowmaking.

The latest vote comes nearly eight years after the Flagstaff City Council originally approved a 25-year contract with Arizona Snowbowl for reclaimed wastewater to be used in snowmaking.

However, because Arizona Snowbowl operates on U.S. Forest Service land, Native Americans and environmentalists took the water issue to federal court in 2006 claiming the affected land was sacred in their culture and went against their traditions.

Eventually, courts ruled in favor of the ski area and the Forest Service. However, tribes subsequently filed a civil lawsuit, claiming that the wastewater plan posed a public health risk.

Given the lawsuit and a need to expedite snowmaking, the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) proposed using drinking water and agreed to provide the ski area a grant to cover the additional costs.

The U.S.D.A. had recently issued a permit to construct the necessary pipeline for the drinking water to flow to the ski area, but still required approval by the Flagstaff City Council, which was denied with the vote.