Wastewater snow trial comes to a messy end

You don't eat yellow snow, but should you ski on it? An Arizona resort thinks so

23 Jan 2013, 00:05

There are a few rules societies need to live by if they're going to survive, most of which were neatly summed up by Charlton Heston in The 10 Commandments. All that "thou shalt not..." stuff that prevents you from stealing office supplies, coveting that chair with the good backrest, or slaying noisy eaters.

Then right below on the list of things you ought to know is sage advice for getting by. Things like the type of people you should never tick off (accountants, customs officers and hairdressers, if you're interested) and ways to stay healthy or safe, such as: you simply can't fit down that children's slide.

Another important adage that falls into this category is The Tank's own personal favourite: "don't eat yellow snow", a bit of proverbial advice that causes endless hilarity chez Tank whenever the Met Office issues an Amber Snow warning.

So we all know you can't eat it, but can you at least ski on it? Well, the Arizona Snowbowl near Flagstaff, tried to find out and, well, let's just say the results were mixed.

Yes, they proved it is perfectly feasible to make snow from what we'll call wastewater. But unfortunately, the snow that was produced was less White Christmas and more Yellow Fever - the easily apparent yellow streaks producing a collective "eeew" from the winter sports community.

One visitor told the New York Times conditions are "kind of disgusting", while it's probably best not to speculate what the moguls were made from.

Despite claims rusty pipes are causing the discolouration, the city authorities have opened an investigation.

Now the Tank's not one to be squeamish - and we're perfectly happy with waste water being used to irrigate parks, sportsfields and lawns, as it commonly is in arid Arizona.

Moreover, with water supplies coming under increasing pressure, recycling wastewater is clearly the right thing to do - it's just that we're just not sure we want to plough face first into the stuff.

Fortunately, we have a green get-out: the water has to be pumped 15 miles uphill using grid electricity, a third of which comes from coal. And anyway, should reclaimed water be used for skiing in Arizona when it could be channelled towards agriculture, irrigation, or drinking water?

That said, with climate change threatening fewer and fewer white winters, perhaps it's time to add yellow to the blue, red, and black runs.

blog comments powered by Disqus


The Sceptic Tank blog provides a unique take on all the latest weird, wonderful, and downright infuriating green stories from around the world

Browse posts by date

Cal_navigation_previousNovember 2014Cal_navigation_next