The City of Flagstaff has extended the controversial Snowbowl’s wastewater contract for 20 years.
This means that the mountains sacred to 13 tribes will be subject to artificial snow made from treated sewage through 2034.
“This extension amounts to committing 3.6 billion gallons of treated sewage to be sprayed on a sensitive mountain ecosystem,” said Klee Benally of Protect the Peaks, a consortium of groups opposing the plan, in a statement. “This is where indigenous people pray and where children will be exposed to harmful contaminants in snow made from this effluent. This is incredibly offensive, unsustainable and ultimately irresponsible considering the escalating water crisis we’re facing in the Southwest.”
The city announced the extension on Friday August 8, the Arizona Daily Sun reported. Snowbowl had asked for the extension at the end of July. Neither city council approval nor a public hearing was required because the extension constituted a renewal rather than a new contract, and was thus considered an administrative matter, the newspaper said.
Though legal challenges have bogged the project down every step of the way, the project has gone ahead.
The reclaimed wastewater has been used to create snow for skiers since late 2012.
Under the agreement, whose terms remain the same, Snowbowl will continue to have access to as much as 1.5 million gallons daily from November through February, and the utilities director can approve up to 2.25 million gallons per day, the Arizona Daily Sun said.