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No Snowmaking?

post #1 of 38
Thread Starter 
The Water Comissioner for the Blue River Basin, which covers Summit County (Copper Mountain, Breckenridge, A-Basin, and Keystone), has indicated there may not be enough water for snowmaking this fall. Usually snowmaking in this area is done only in October, November and December.

Lake Dillon is already 1/3 below capacity and water flowing down the Upper Blue River is at October levels, normally the driest part of the year.

The Summit Daily News published an in depth article on the situation today which can be accessed at: 207200101&Ref=AR .

Summit County comissioner Gary Lindstrom stated in the article " If there is no water, there will be no snowmaking. This is the worst year ever on record, and there's no water in storage that can be used for snowmaking, so therefore there will be no snowmaking in Summit County this Year."

Conserve water, shower with a friend!!!!
post #2 of 38
Wow, I did not even know that they had snow making out there. We had a similar situation here in the east last year. Resevoirs were real low. I'd be curious to know what percentage of te mountains are serviced.
post #3 of 38
Good, maybe this will slow down the destruction, I mean the construction that is overwelming Colorado mountain towns.
post #4 of 38
Nothing like a drought to thin the herd.

Is an El Nino good for Colorado?
post #5 of 38
If memory serves our last el nino brought rain but warm temps. It was too warm to make snow even in Nov. We could be in for a very thin year w/o snow-making and the resorts sure don't need another poor xmas. Let's hope for a BIG change in weather (it's hellish here at the moment. 85 in T-ride--9000 ft-- the other day; over 100 in Denver)

BTW I heard over 80% of water goes to agreculture and over 60% of residential water gets wasted--IMO--on the lawn, none of which is recoverable. OTOH, about 75% of water used in the home is treated and recycled. I've also heard that Denver only has a 2 yr supply of water left so we need rain/snow BAD. All the resevoirs I drive by LOOK pretty empty. Not sure your average Denverite understands how serious the situation is, especially those with green lawns......
post #6 of 38
well, once we get some el nino storms, hopefully in sept. and oct it will be enough to get some snow making
post #7 of 38
They should just do what we did in Phoenix and give themselve's a nice gravel yard. You can get the rock to match your house, it's easy to maintain, there's no mowing, and no water. I guess laying in the yard isn't as comfortable or using the slip and slide can leave some marks, but I say it adds character. You also get to know the ER doctors on a first name basis, which is nice.

post #8 of 38
Thread Starter 
Well, we actually had rain in Summit County yesterday afternoon and are expecting more this afternoon. Nowhere near enough but at least it dampens things a bit. [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #9 of 38
Wow, I didn't think they'd do that.

But it's a good thing. We may have to wait until December to start making turns here at the home office, but oh well.

Let's not be selfish bastards. And let's hope that what's goin on now won't happen again for another 30 years.

But, weather happens.
post #10 of 38
can anyone post some pictures of lake dillon.
thanks bteddy
post #11 of 38
Check this out:


edit: link

[ July 21, 2002, 07:13 PM: Message edited by: Ski Monkey ]
post #12 of 38
Question out of general interest: all those people who use the water to keep their lawns green, do they have to pay for it? We're all slowly changing over to metered water which is definitely cutting down on gardening sprinklers.

[NB: This is a factual question. I do have political views about this issue which I'm not going to inflict on you]
post #13 of 38
This could shape up to be an interesting battle between environmentalists and the tourist trade. I noted in my other thread on this topic that record low levels in the streams that feed the resevoirs are placing strains on fish population. I was surprised on my trip two weeks ago that there weren't more sprinkling bans and other water use restrictions in place, not only in Summit County, but also in Denver.

Heard that Arapahoe finally got permission to put in snow-making gear. Somewhat ironic that the last bastion of natural snow in Summit converts to the dark side and then can't even use the equipment.
post #14 of 38
I think something like this is good.

We waste too much water. What's more American than wasting resources, right?

People need to think different and we need to take care of the planet. else; there won't be one left.

post #15 of 38
Here's a photo taken June 8 of Dillon Reservoir. I'll take more when I go up later this week.

post #16 of 38
This happened at LAke Louise last season in Nov. as the creeks were so low from a summer of very little rain that Parks Canada restricted the amount of water that could be used for snowmaking. Wasn't really a tourist issue as very few that time of year but LL has a WC ~ Nov 15-20. Worked out fine in that got a big dump right before opening.
post #17 of 38
Frances, I don't know in the States but in Italy, France and Germany (the three countries where I lived/live/have a little experience about)
people are charged for every droplet of water they use (actually in France a m3 of water is cheaper than in Italy).
Is this what you were inquiring about?

Anyhow, this doesn't stop us wasting it...
post #18 of 38
We get nice water restrictions like only bucket watering of gardens
post #19 of 38
Thread Starter 

If you can take the picture from the same spot. I think the comparison will be startling.

Driving by Lake Dillon each day I'm amazed at the shrinkage of the lake.

An interesting question to ponder; if water is available but limited how much will go for terrain coverage and how much for terrain parks.
post #20 of 38
Water charging policies vary quite a bit from supplier to supplier. I've lived in places where water was just rolled up into annual propery taxes, and in places where every cubic foot is metered and paid for (By far the more common scenario in the USA).
For my local co-op water company, we we are charged the lowest rate for the most commonly used volume of water, then charged a little more for a middle tier volume, and then charged quite a bit more for anything more than that, so those who use significantly more than everyone else (folks with huge lawns with sprinkler systems running almost daily) pay for it.
This is in the Pacific North-Wet, where water is rarely an issue.

I've been really surprised to hear nothing about water restrictions in Colorado. No car washing, Lawn watering once a week, etc.
Seems like it would have been smart to put restrictions into effect back during the winter when the snow cover was known to be so thin.
post #21 of 38
Here's another shot from the same place the same day, June 8. It give's you some idea of how low the lake was then. I'll do another shot from the same place.

post #22 of 38
Thread Starter 
Ah, the debate is heating up. From an article in today's Summit Daily, which unfortunately is not available on their web site, we find the following:

A local water attorney maintains the shortage of water posited by Scott Hummer is incorrect. Glen Porzak feels that sufficient water is available in storage to support snowmaking needs. "I got to tell you; they are just dead wrong". Porzak indicates Breckenridge, Copper and Keystone all can obtain additional water from local reservoirs. No comments relative to A-Basin.

Hummer responds that the current stream flow is so low that (presently at October-December levels) that it is uncertain whether released water would in fact make it to the diversion points for snowmaking. "It's not that there won't be any water, but the way they're able to use the water might be limited based on the observations we see today."

Stay tuned for the next chapter. [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #23 of 38
I was in Silverthorn middle of May and was astonished at the level of the lake. Am on my way back this weekend and am scared at what I am going to find....

Altough this forum is filled with avid and passionate skiers, we need to keep a bigger perspective. The water problem is national. Here in Virginia, at my Mom's in SoCal, Friends in New England and the midwest and Florida. These be sacry times folks. Check out the extent of the fires we've been experiencing all over the country....

Yeah - like S&G said - shower with a friend, and also flush once a day (unless it's #2), turn off the faucet when you brush your teeth. Keep a full bucket at your sink for rinsing dishes, anything else you can think of. A little goes a long way - and tell your friends .... who should tell their friends ... who should tell their friends ....
post #24 of 38
Re: screwing up this planet: I read that scientists have found lots of ice on Mars, maybe there will be powder on some other planet. At eastern areas, tight water budgets are a typical story. I've heard that drawing down the rivers in winter is a critical time for trout reproduction; and I know we have a lot of fisherfolks here on EpicSki. Some areas have created snowmaking ponds, but not as big as Lake Dillon!
post #25 of 38
I'll see if I can get some pictures of Lake Dillon too. It's considerably lower now than it was in June!

But the weather does seem to have changed. It rained yesterday, pretty well for a while. It rained a bit last night, too, and it was still coming down this morning. I'd guess we got as much rain in the last 24 hours as we've had all summer!

Since most of the snowmaking water comes from small streams well upstream of any of the reservoirs, it probably depends more on the recent precipitation in the drainage area than on the level in the lakes, or the long-term drought conditions. If we get some late summer/fall rain, those little streams could swell to high levels in a moment. They still might not allow the resorts to take water from them, I suppose, but I'd lay odds that we'll have at least SOME snowmaking this fall.

Nolo--I remember a few years back, when a distinct El Nino was in the cards, and the "experts" were all predicting a great snowy winter. It didn't happen. The next winter's weather was governed by the opposite--"El Nina"--and the "experts" predicted a great, snowy winter, in contrast to the El Nino effect. It didn't happen. The next winter was a "non-Nino, non-Nina" winter, and the weather experts predicted a great, snowy winter unaffected by weather anomalies. Again, it didn't happen.

So--back to the question we've debated so long and so hard: what's it really take to be an "expert"?

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #26 of 38
Two of the Oz Victorian resorts are currently researching and are about to begin trials of using recycled wastewater for snowmaking. Of course the big issue is the cost of processing the wastewater BUT the technology is there and has been for some time. All it takes is the installation of primary filtration on the end of the current wastewater processing line.

The reason for the recycling is not so much drought but the fact that all Oz resorts are located in protected national park areas and maintaining natural stream flows is a big part of the park management and a hot community topic down under.

Summit & Eagle counties would have potential for recycling vast quantities wastewater. This water can be used for snowmaking, all those thirsty golf courses and community sports ovals etc. even the ice arenas would be a candidate.

In Sydney over the past few years the installation of rainwater tanks has become part of the development process. It has taken quite sometime to change legislation BUT it is now legal and encouraged to install rainwater tanks and hook them up for toilet and garden use. The other issue is the retention of storm water flows on each property to cut down on storm water flows to the ocean and harbor. Currently Sydney harbor is cleaner than it was when I was young and the fish, whales, penguins, bird life etc are returning in large numbers

Every little bit helps in water conservation. Start campaigning now for water recycling for urban and sports usage and storm water (free water) recycling for garden usage.

From the driest continent on the planet, slowly we all wise up to our responsibilities.

Oz [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #27 of 38
Originally posted by man from oz:
Two of the Oz Victorian resorts are currently researching and are about to begin trials of using recycled wastewater for snowmaking. Of course the big issue is the cost of processing the wastewater BUT the technology is there and has been for some time. All it takes is the installation of primary filtration on the end of the current wastewater processing line.
Arizona Snowbowl in Flagstaff is trying to get permission to use recycled wastewater to make snow. Right now it's not being used for anything in the winter, in the summer it's used for golf courses.
post #28 of 38
Originally posted by ziggyskier:
Yeah - like S&G said - shower with a friend, and also flush once a day (unless it's #2), turn off the faucet when you brush your teeth. Keep a full bucket at your sink for rinsing dishes, anything else you can think of. A little goes a long way - and tell your friends .... who should tell their friends ... who should tell their friends ....
Great ideas, even though the impact of this is minimal.

Modest Proposal:
Don't go golfing! Ever wonder how the courses stay so green when the surrounding landscape is parched? Golf courses waste enormous amounts of water.
post #29 of 38
From todays paper:

Drought menaces ski areas' season
By Jason Blevins and Steve Lipsher
Denver Post Staff Writers

Monday, July 29, 2002 - ARAPAHOE BASIN - Arapahoe Basin officials fear they may have no water available in the autumn to run through a new snowmaking system now being built for the state's highest ski area.
"It's pretty plain and simple: If there aren't adequate streamflows . . . we don't make snow," said resort chief Jim Gentling.

The situation at Arapahoe Basin highlights the dilemma facing Colorado's ski resorts during a drought, when even senior water rights might not be worth anything if a stream is completely dry.

Since the disastrously dry winter of 1977-78, when Breckenridge operated for only two months and some resorts didn't open at all, the state's ski areas have invested tens of millions of dollars in snowmaking systems designed to ensure a head start on the season.

But many, such as Arapahoe Basin, depend on naturally flowing streams for the massive artificial snow.

"It's still flowing. But it's July," Gentling said of the north fork of the Snake River, which is trickling past the stream gauge at Keystone at a meager 20 cubic feet per second, a rate typically not seen until October.

To cover a 200-square-foot area with 6 inches of snow requires about 75,000 gallons of water. Large ski areas can gulp 2,000 gallons of water in one minute.

Even tiny Loveland can consume a full pond of water in a single night.

"Last I heard, we have the same water rights we had in the past," said Kevin Wright, spokesman for Loveland ski area. "But I'm still bringing in two gallons a day and storing it in my closet, just in case."

Snowmaking consumes about 109 gallons of water for every skier visit, according to the National Ski Areas Association. That equates to 1.2 billion gallons of water used during the 2001-02 ski season.

Larger resorts, such as Vail and Aspen, have spent decades buying senior water rights to help them through lean years. Even so, water users are required to leave minimal flows in streams, so in extremely dry years, those rights might be worthless "paper water" rather than "wet water."

"We have an adequate amount," said Paul Testwuide, senior vice-president of special projects for Vail Resorts, who was instrumental in developing the Eagle Park Reservoir in Eagle County almost 20 years ago.

"We sweated a lot of blood and tears for this water, and it really was just for a year like this."

Snowmakers at Vail and Beaver Creek ski areas expect to use about 1,080 acre-feet of water for snowmaking in the upcoming season, Testwuide said. The Eagle Park Reservoir, which supplies all of Vail and Beaver Creek's snowmaking water, has 2,400 acre-feet.

In Summit County, resort operators are not panicking - yet.

"We are as concerned as everybody as it has been a dry season," said Copper Mountain Resort spokesman Ben Friedland. "We feel confident we will have water. It's too early at this point to tell how much we're going to have access to."

Just last year, Copper Mountain unveiled its new snowmaking system, which used 14 percent less water and still allowed the resort to become the first in the nation to open.

Like Copper, Keystone relies in part on water stored in reservoirs, so the historic low flows of the Snake River don't cause too much alarm.

"Thankfully, we have a very efficient, state-of-the-art snowmaking system," said resort spokeswoman Dawn Doty.

At Arapahoe Basin, the prospect of no water means the resort may have to rely on Old Man Winter in hopes of a mid-November opening, just as it has in the past 50 years, Gentling said.

In 2001-02, Arapahoe Basin opened late and closed early due to a lack of snow. Skier visits at the resort plummeted 37 percent, the largest drop of any resort in the state.

Gentling said that despite seven years of legal fights to build a snowmaking system, the resort may not be as drastically affected as resorts that have grown accustomed to snowmaking.

Some resorts, however, are turning toward shamanism and other methods to hedge their bets. Both Vail and Durango Mountain Resort, for example, will continue cloud seeding.

"We will ask the local tribe to dance and we will make snow and we will pray for snow. We're going to cover all the bases," said Bob Kunkel, senior vice president at Durango Mountain Resort
post #30 of 38
Thread Starter 
According to the Summit Daily, Vail Resorts will exchange water rights held in the Eagle Camp reservoir, east of Camp Hale, for water rights in Summit County owned by the City of Colorado Springs. This will supplement the water available for Breckenridge to use for snowmaking.
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