Jan 13, 2015

Efficient Pumping for Every Season

Elisabeth Lisican

In December I had the opportunity to attend the AMTA Technology Transfer Workshop in Keystone, Colo. Between sessions, attendees had a chance to step outside the conference center and gaze at the awe-inspiring Rocky Mountains all around us. The pure crispness of the state’s natural environment makes it easy to forget the disheartening fact that Colorado is facing a water gap—in fact, the State Water Supply Initiative estimates that, by 2050, municipal water demands could exceed supplies by 500,000 acre-ft, according to a recent article in the Denver Post.

The state is not sitting idly by, though. For example, Snowmass Water and Sanitation District (SWSD) has made significant investments in a water conservation program that secures the water supply while protecting healthy minimum stream flows in the local Snowmass Creek, which is the source for most of Snowmass Village’s water. At the forefront of the program is the Ziegler Reservoir, a 252-acre-ft reservoir that came to life following the discovery and excavation of Ice Age fossils in 2010. Thanks to the reservoir, SWSD has been able to preserve the state’s minimum instream flow in recent years. 

Ziegler Reservoir also directly impacts the state’s biggest draw: ski season.

The Post article gave an example of how the reservoir is being utilized: In the past, the Aspen Skiing Co. depended on direct diversions from Snowmass Creek to make snow for the Snowmass Ski Area. With Ziegler, the company now takes up to 80 million gal of water for snowmaking out of the reservoir—without impacting Snowmass Creek. 

A representative of the skiing company told the Post that the reservoir was beneficial because it allowed snow to be made “all at once” versus in batches that were dependent upon how much water could be taken out of the creek.

In addition to saving water, snowmaking has improved these days in terms of how efficiently the water is pumped to become the coveted white powder. One cannot talk about efficient snowmaking without considering pumping operations. Pumps for water extraction must operate efficiently; therefore, having a proper monitoring system in place prevents downtime and saves money and energy. 

With this in mind, we are starting to see more solution providers partnering with ski resorts to develop systems that maximize their snowmaking efficiency. And for a ski-heavy state like Colorado to be focused so much on sustainability, these technological advancements go hand-in-hand with natural discoveries like Ziegler—which, according to the Post, is one of many new water management assets that will likely come down the pike as the state continues its push toward better water conservation.

No matter the type of industrial pumping application, it is important to follow some simple steps when assessing pumping operations, which include managing energy efficiency, maintaining assets and keeping track of energy costs. 

Industrial pumping does not have to be a drain for energy and overall budgets with a few key proactive measures.

About the author

Elisabeth Lisican is managing editor of Water & Wastes Digest. Lisican can be reached at [email protected] or 847.391.1012.

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