Steelhammer: When the snow hits the fan
A recycling project taking shape at an Arizona ski resort this season could leave skiers and snowboarders flushed with excitement -- or maybe just anxious to flush.
Arizona Snowbowl near Flagstaff is poised to become the world's first ski area to make snow from water that is 100 percent treated sewage fluids. The accomplishment proves that with the right attitude, it's possible to make honey when life deals you a honey wagon, and create a place where the affluent connect with the effluent.
While the concept is being contested by environmentalists worried about contaminating groundwater supplies and by American Indian groups who consider the mountain a sacred place, Flagstaff city officials argue that treated sewage is already being safely used to water golf courses and parks.
While that may be true, riding a half-pipe at a ski resort could lose some of its appeal, if skiers and snowboarders knew that a pipe full of sewer water was used to produce it. I suspect that skiers and riders suffering the discomfort and indignity of face plants at Arizona Snowbowl will be among those most fervently longing for the days when only natural snow covered their slopes.
While winter sports fans in Arizona will be dealing with off-color white stuff when it hits the snowmaking fans this winter, skiers and snowboarders in Vermont will be riding the world's first ski lift powered by cow poop.
According to a Reuters News Service article on Friday, Killington ski area will use 300,000 kilowatts of electricity made from cow patties collected from 13 dairy farms to run its K-I Express gondola lift to the top of Killington Peak.
Waste dropped on barn and milking parlor floors will be mixed with water used to sanitize milking equipment to produce a slurry that, when mixed with bacteria in an anaerobic digester, creates methane gas. That gas, in turn, is burned to generate power.
With cow pie power and sewer snow hitting the slopes this winter, some colorful new ski run and lift names need to be created to pay homage to the recyclables that created them. Here are a few possibilities: