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Dec 27
Dec 27

Arizona Snowbowl Violates City Permit and State Law, Complaint Filed

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These kids are sitting and playing in sewer water snow with no eye protection
Children playing and skiing in wastewater snow with no protective eyewear. A touch of his face with glove and ingestion occurs.

Snowmaking is Legal, but ADEQ Regs and City Contract do not Permit the use of Treated Sewage Effluent for Skiing

Dec. 26, 2012 (Flagstaff, AZ) - The Arizona Snowbowl started making snow at the ski resort high atop the San Francisco Peaks on Dec. 24, 2012 and they got quite a suprise in the morning to find out it was bright yellow. Today they received another suprise when it was discovered by True Snow that skiing is not an allowed direct reuse of treated sewage effluent.

Yesterday, we at True Snow reported that Arizona Snowbowl violated its contract with the city because of a lack of prominently placed signs. Upon further viewing at the resort, we were able to find two signs placed over 10 feet off the ground and measuring about 8 inches by 8 inches. However, the signs had none of the required language as specified in the city contract. In fact they were purple and seemed more a proclamation of conservation efforts and not a warning of any kind.

While reading the City contract and ADEQ laws on wastewater to see what warnings signs were necessary, we found a whole lot of things that Arizona Snowbowl was doing that are just plain illegal. So today we filed a complaint with the City of Flagstaff and ADEQ demanding that the city suspend delivery of the water and ultimately terminate the contract in it's entirety due to the fact that some violations have no remedy.

"Even though state law allows A+ wastewater to contain some fecal coliform organisms and enteric viruses, many people seem to think that A+ treatment standards means the wastewater is clean and safe enough to drink. This common misconception of treated sewage effluent is giving people a false sense of safety. No amount of signage, descriptive or not, will prevent ingestion of reclaimed wastewater snow while skiing. It is the city's responsibility to uphold the law and cancel the contract" said True Snow volunteer Katie Nelson.

"I am deeply disapointed in our local and state government for not pressing Arizona Snowbowl to follow the letter of the law. It is completely irresponsible of the City and ADEQ to simply sit back and let Arizona Snowbowl do whatever they want. The health of every skier, snowboarder, and employee at the resort is in their hands and they just don't seem to care" said Rudy Preston, founder of True Snow. "When I decided to dig a little deeper into the City Contract and Arizona laws, I was amazed to find that skiing on treated wastewater is illegal. We filed a complaint with ADEQ immediately."

Snowbowl was observed to be in violation of many State laws and points in the City contract that are being brought forth as well.

"From improper/missing signage to out of code pipes and hoses, it looks like Arizona Snowbowl will have its work cut out for them to ensure the health and safety of its patrons and employees. Treated Sewage Effluent is being tracked into lodges and eating areas and being transferred to water fountains and sinks, how can Snowbowl prevent this?" asks Rudy Preston.

We at True Snow do not see how any responsible government agency could have allowed Snowbowl to move forward with this project even if skiing was legal under Arizona Law - which it is not. Only snowmaking is permitted as a direct reuse of treated sewage effluent.

Please read the full complaint here to see all the violations we found:

Also please read the city contract here:

Arizona Administrative Code Title 18, Chapter 9, Article 6 and 7 are the state laws about reclaimed wastewater and can be read here:

For high resolution pictures, there is a zip file full here:
Photo credits: Katie Nelson
Rudy Preston
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Written by zen pathfinder