KNAU and Arizona News
11:08 am
Wed January 9, 2013

Snowbowl Protests Continue

Protests continue over Arizona Snowbowl's use of reclaimed wastewater for artificial snowmaking.

This winter, the Arizona Snowbowl Ski Resort near Flagstaff began making artificial snow with reclaimed wastewater. Tribal and environmental groups have been trying to stop the plan for over a decade. And on Tuesday, about 50 people formed a prayer circle outside Flagstaff City Hall calling for an immediate end to snowmaking on the San Francisco Peaks.

More than a dozen tribes claim the mountain is sacred to them and that spraying reclaimed wastewater on the peaks amounts to religious and environmental desecration. Tom Johnston was among the protestors and said, "There's medical waste in there, there's all kinds of things in there. And when we went up there they were teaching little kids how to ski on the bunny hill. Right on that brown snow and we saw kids going face first into the snow."

This summer, Snowbowl constructed a pipeline to pump the treated water to the peaks. They also installed a 10 million gallon retention pond on the south side of the mountain. Officials with the city of Flagstaff say the water is treated at a high level of filtration. But they admit there's no way of knowing how every single chemical compound in the water may effect the ecosystem or human health. Snowbowl is now the first ski resort in the world to make artificial snow from 100 percent reclaimed wastewater.