U.S. Government Ignores Public Health Dangers of Sewer Water Snowmaking
Concerned Citizens File New Lawsuit to Force Government to Study and Disclose Effects
of Ingesting Snow Made from Treated Sewage Effluent
Flagstaff, AZ — A group of concerned citizens will not let the potential health risks of using treated sewage effluent to make snow at the Snowbowl ski area on the San Francisco Peaks outside of Flagstaff get swept under the rug on a technicality. Although Snowbowl is a private, for-profit entity, the ski area operates on federal land under a special use permit. As a result, the federal government must approve Snowbowl’s plan to use 100% reclaimed sewer water to make snow—something that is not done anywhere else in the world. The City of Flagstaff agreed to sell Snowbowl the treated sewage effluent and off they went, or so they thought. The San Francisco Peaks are well documented as sacred and holy to, at least, thirteen of the tribes in the Southwestern United States, all of whom viewed the decision as a direct threat to their religious and cultural survival. Litigation on cultural and religious issues surrounding the project was appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which recently declined to consider the case. The Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the case left a decision of an en banc panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in place which, as is often the case, went against the tribes. The use of reclaimed sewer water to make snow, however, was not only repulsive to people who hold the San Francisco Peaks sacred, it raised concerns from skiers and the community over the safety of being immersed in, and even eating, snow made from non-potable treated sewage effluent.