YELLOW artificial snow made from sewage-water disgusts public, turns off skiers
2013 01 18
By Leslie Macmillan | TheNewYorkTimes
After a decade of legal battles, a ski resort in Northern Arizona recently became the first in the world to make artificial snow totally out of sewage effluent. On Dec. 24, Arizona Snowbowl fired up its snow guns for the first time, and to everyone’s surprise, the snow that blasted onto the mountain was yellow.
The discolored snow has sharpened an already fraught conflict.
Snowbowl’s manager, J. R. Murray, said the problem was caused by rusty residue in the new snow-making equipment that carries the wastewater from neighboring Flagstaff, where it is piped directly from the town’s sewage treatment plant.
Yellowish traces (look closely) at Arizona Snowbowl, where snow made from wastewater was deployed for the first time over the holidays.
But Taylor McKinnon of the Center for Biological Diversity, a conservation group, says something seems fishy. “I question whether that explanation is based on tests of the water or conjecture,” he said. ”Something’s awry, and the onus is on the Forest Service and ADEQ to protect the public and determine the cause.” (ADEQ is the acronym for the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.)
As I have reported, environmentalists and Native American groups have long opposed the ski area’s snow-making plan, arguing that the wastewater snow poses risks to public health and the ecology of a mountain considered sacred by 13 American Indian tribes.
Streaks of yellow at Arizona Snowbowl.
Mike Fulton, water quality division director of the state Department of Environmental Quality, said the agency was “looking hard” into several complaints it had received claiming that the presence of the manufactured snow on the slopes violated state laws on the use of reclaimed water, which prohibit ingesting it. Critics argue, among other things, that wastewater snow is being tracked into eating areas and that children are playing in it and touching their faces with it.
The water used for making snow at the ski area is not drinking water. Studies have found that it contains hormones, pharmaceuticals, antibiotics and other chemicals. There is much debate about whether these chemicals are harmful in small amounts.
Read the full article at: nytimes.com
The Golden Rule in snowy climates.
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