Dec 19, 2006

Flagstaff, Ariz., Extends Wastewater Snow Contract

Flagstaff, Ariz., has agreed to a five-year contract extension to sell treated wastewater for snowmaking at the Arizona Snowbowl ski area. The federal appeals court is currently assessing the legality of using the water.

City officials reported to the Arizona Daily Sun, that the extension was approved without action by the Flagstaff City Council as an administrative matter. The contract comes with three five-year renewal options.

The ski area plans to begin snowmaking operations next winter if the plans are not blocked by an appeal submitted to the federal appeals court by Indian tribes.

The snow would use up to 1.5 million gallons of treated Flagstaff wastewater a day from November through February, and would be piped 14.8 miles from Flagstaff into a 10 million gallon storage pond.

Indian tribes have sued to stop the snowmaking plan, opposing the idea of reclaimed water due to religious beliefs, and fear that the water might be harmful.

In January, U.S. District Judge Paul Rosenblatt of Phoenix ruled that the Indian tribes failed to show proper evidence that their religion will be impacted by the Snowbowl upgrades. The tribes appealed, and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals heard the case in September. A ruling is pending.

The 777-acre resort sits on the western flank of the San Francisco Peaks that have spiritual and religious meaning to 13 tribes in the Southwest.