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Does Snowmaking Effect the Hydrologic Cycle?. Kelly Doyle Spring 2003. http://www.ist-snow.com/. Why the Need for Snowmaking?. Good early season snow gives skier confidence Increases use during low snow seasons Provides good base for powder

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Does Snowmaking Effect the Hydrologic Cycle?

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Does Snowmaking Effect the Hydrologic Cycle?

Kelly Doyle

Spring 2003


http://www.ist-snow.com/


Why the Need for Snowmaking?

Good early season snow gives skier confidence

  • Increases use during low snow seasons

  • Provides good base for powder

  • Provides sustainable rate of growth for expansions such as new facilities and to enhance skiing experience

  • Stability for the local tourism based economy


How is Snow Artificially Made?

http://www.arecosnow.com

www.snowmaking.com.au/ht_docs/index.html


How is Snow Made?

  • Water Vapor sublimates into tiny ice crystals in atmosphere

  • 3 Factors:

    • Temperature: if <0F, snow denser, ~15F, light and fluffy with large ice crystals

    • Duration of descent

    • Temperature on ground determines wetness of snow

http://www.ist-snow.com/page2.html


How is Snow Made Artificially?

  • Cold water & compressed air within a subfreezing environment

    • 1. Atomization: Reduces particle size to increase surface area to volume ratio through nozzles

    • Heat transfer decreases temp of water to ambient air temp

    • Add compressed air at high velocity outside of air nozzles


How is Snow Made Artificially?

  • 2. Introduce seed particle made of bacterial protein to aid in crystallization

    • Protein used to catalyze the conversion of water to ice

    • Use of catalyst increases freezing temp from 15F-20F to 28F


Technology vs. Nature

  • Efficiency:

    • Quiet: 60db can’t be heard past 100m

    • Low energy consumption & many hours of operation at 15kW

    • Usually use water pressure between 80-100psi

  • No present technology can match nature:

    • Liquid Water Content:

      • 40-50% artificial

      • 1-10% natural


Snowmaking Monitoring System at Mt. Pluto, Lake Tahoe

http://www.ist-snow.com/page2.html


Energy Costs

  • Temperature:

    • Energy cost doubles for making snow in 10F up to 25F

Typical Material Cost Breakdown of a Snowmaking System

http://www.ratnik.com/snowmaking.html


Energy Costs

  • Water Pressure:

    • Usually use 80-100 psi, cost

    • increases 40% to use 150 psi

http://www.areco.com

Snowmaking Technology Energy Use Consumption

http://www.ratnik.com/snowmaking.html


Goals of Snowmaking

  • Long distance reach

  • Minimal chance of freezup

  • Uniform crystal size

  • Energy efficient

  • Mobile (small, light)

  • Ranges between blizzard intensity (4in/hr) to mild flurry (1/4in/hr)

http://arecosnow.com/Photos


How is Snow Made?

  • Water withdrawn from river or lake

  • Pumped up to holding reservoir

http://www.ist-snow.com/Page1


Whiskey’s For Drinkin’, Water’s For Fightin’

  • Legal right to divert water

    • Senior rights

    • Vail has spent >$1,000,000 acquiring senior water rights

  • Legal rights for water left in rivers aren’t recognized in many states

  • Highest priority to people that hold oldest rights


How Has Snowmaking Effected the Colorado Ski Industry?

http://www.ist-snow.com/Page4.html

  • Artificial snow in:

    • Colorado: 16%

    • East Coast: 90%

  • 109 gal of water used/skier visit

  • To cover an area 500m x 60m 20cm deep, need 600m3 of snow or 2500m3 of water


Major Ski Areas in Colorado


The Battle for Water:Colorado Wild vs. United States Forest Service

  • Arapahoe Basin: Colorado’s oldest, smallest, and highest ski area

  • Located near Loveland Pass on the North Fork of the Snake River, a tributary of the Colorado River

  • Court battle: make snow in response to several consecutive dry years and pressure to match early opening dates of competitors

  • Only major resort as of 1998 not to make snow


Biological Effects of Diverting Water

Little Snake River at Steamboat Springs

  • Decreased Water Quality

  • Increased runoff

  • Fish kills

  • Decreased wildlife habitat

  • Affected recreational activities

http://mangling.com/C54.htm


The Water Cycle

  • Effects of diverting water:

www.epa.gov/seahome/groundwater/src/hydrocyc.htm


Water Quality

Snake River at Keystone, CO

  • The North Fork dilutes high concentrations of toxic metals downstream in the Snake River from to acid mine drainage

  • Cu, Ni, Ur, Pb, Zn

www.instaar.colorado.edu/SRWTF/

Near Baxter Springs, Kansas

www.abyss.kgs.ku.edu/pls/abyss/pubcat.phd1


Runoff

Boulder Brook, CO

  • Increased spring runoff

    • Rate

    • Volume

    • duration

  • 70-80% returned to system as runoff

  • Earlier peak discharge

    • Erosion

    • Need for larger storage reservoirs

www.migallery.com/Photos/Lake15.jpg


Lowflow & Fish Kills

  • Water diverted in the winter, when streams are at their lowest flow

  • Ecosystem extremely sensitive at this time

    • Greenback & Cutthroat Trout

www.tu.org


A-Basin’s Struggle to Make Snow

  • A-Basin served as scapegoat to environmental organizations fighting for instream flows


The Court Decision

  • Colorado Wild lost lawsuit on the basis:

    • Clean Water Act doesn’t regulate water quality impacts from diversions, only discharges

    • Colorado law: water quality standards only apply to discharges of pollutants

  • Arapahoe Basin began making snow November 21, 2002


The Court Decision: Movement Towards Instream Flow

A-basin spokesman Alan Henceroth:

“No water diverter in Colorado has ever been required to meet such strict standards”


The Court Decision

  • Arapahoe Basin agreed to:

    • Contribution of $20,000 for stream restoration of Snake River

    • Implement an aquatic biological monitoring plan

    • Bypass wintertime flows in greater quantities than required by the Colorado Water Conservation Board


How Much Does Snowmaking Effect the Water Cycle?

Total Recreation Use: 3,398 AF (0.1%)


Outlook For 2003-2004

  • Colorado Basin predictions call for 80%-89% of average volume runoff

  • Low winter stream flows have caused difficulty in administering reservoir releases for snowmaking

  • Increased protection of in-stream flows by monitoring snowmaking diversions

  • Four ski areas have proposed terrain expansions this winter

www.arecosnow.com/Snowmaking.html


Work Cited

  • “Loveland Ski Areas’ Augmentation Plan,” Leonard Rice Consulting Water Engineers, Inc. http://www.lrcwe.com

  • “Colorado’s Historic Drought Won’t Affect Snowmaking at most ski areas this season,” The Denver Post. 9/27/02. Pg. C-01

  • “Ski Resort, Forest Service Argue for Use of Snowmaking Water From Snake River,” U.S. Water News Online. Nov, 2000. http://www.uswaternews.com/archives/arcrights/tskires11.html

  • “Greens Call Snowmaking a Snow Job,” High Country News. 3/27/00. http://www.hcn.org/sevlets.hcn.Article?article_id=5659

  • Colorado River Basin Water Use, Growth, & Demand Projections. Colorado Water Conservation Board, 2002.

  • Calibration of Snowmaking Equipment for Efficient Use on Virginia’s Smart Road. Shea, Edward J. 1999.

  • Colorado Water Supply Conditions Update. 2003. www.water.state.co.us

  • http://www.co.nrcs.usda.gov/snow/dailydata.htm

  • Schroeder, William. “Snake River Water Quality Assessment.” EPA.

  • “Snowmaking Starts,” Arapahoe Basin Press Release. 11/21/02. http://www.arapahoebasin.com/cgi-bin/newsroom

  • “Water Diversions For Snowmaking…” Water Law Newsletter. 2001. http://www.rmmlf.org/pubs/newsletters

  • “A Dry Legacy,” Trout Unlimited, 2002. http://www.tu.org

  • “Western Water Campaign,” Trout Unlimited. 2001. http://www.tu.org/campaigns


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