This ski season an Arizona resort is planning to use sewage to make snow for its slopes. Green destination or gross desecration? Opposite sides of the poo mountain proposal are battling it out.
Following approval from a Federal Appeals Court in February, the Arizona Snowbowl resort will be the first in the world to use treated sewage effluent to manufacture snow. Located in Flagstaff, the ski slopes are on U.S. Forest Service land. Environmental groups and 13 Native American tribes formed a coalition to fight the plan. For the tribes, the mountain is considered sacred.
A regional forester told New York Times reporter Leslie Macmillan that the treated water will be a step below drinking water and on par with water currently used elsewhere for irrigating golf courses. For the resort, making snow with sewage would be an economical way to stay in business, regardless of the weather. Ski season represents as much as $35 million for Flagstaff's economy.
Mamillan interviewed Catherine R. Propper, a scientist and Northern Arizona University professor hired by the city of Flagstaff, to test the water. While she said accidentally getting a mouthful of the snow wouldn't make a difference, she did raise concerns about a number of chemicals found in the wastewater, including hormones, antidepressants, pharmaceuticals and steroids.