Environment | Law

Fast Company: Hopi Tribe fights bid for fake snow at sacred site

"It's not uncommon for ski resorts to make artificial snow when the real thing can't be found, but the Snowbowl Ski Resort in Flagstaff, Arizona wants to take the practice to another level by covering its slopes with snow made out of 180 million gallons of recycled sewage. It's a plan that is drawing ire from local Native American tribes and environmental activists alike.

Snowbowl first received the go-ahead to make artificial snow in 2005 to compensate for unpredictable weather (that's what happens when you build a ski resort in the desert). More recently, the city of Flagstaff agreed to sell 1.5 million gallons of wastewater daily from a local treatment plant to the resort.

The ski resort plans to construct a 15 mile pipeline from the city that goes to a reservoir. When Snowbowl is low on real powder, it will be able to pump the sewage into large fans that churn out a fine mist of water droplets, which can quickly freeze into snow.

Perhaps the largest impediment to Snowbowl's plan is the Hopi Tribe, which sued Flagstaff on Friday for its decision to go ahead with the wastewater plan. The problem: Snowbowl's wastewater run-off will likely end up on land that the tribe considers to be sacred. In fact, 13 Native American tribes worship at the San Francisco Peaks--the inactive volcano range that is home to Snowbowl. And having soiled water on sacred land so that people can go skiing doesn't sit well with the tribes."

Get the Story:
Don't Eat The Yellow Snow: Arizona Ski Resort Plans To Make Powder Out Of Sewage (Fast Company 8/25)

Related Stories:
Hopi Tribe files lawsuit to block use of wastewater at sacred site (8/24)

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