Editorial: City faces a hard decision on water use and sacred site
"It's been said that having choices can make life more interesting but also more difficult.

And thanks to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's handling of the Snowbowl snowmaking permit, the Flagstaff City Council has experienced that truism in spades.

Thursday's 5-2 vote by the council not to sell drinking water to Snowbowl came only after reopening one of the more divisive decisions by a previous council in 2002. The fact that the vote returns the issue to the contractually obligated status quo of selling reclaimed wastewater for snowmaking did not make it any easier,

The USDA option to use subsidized drinking water also opened to public scrutiny secret negotiations the city had been conducting with the Hopi Tribe over a future water pipeline easement from Red Gap Ranch east of Flagstaff. And the option forced various tribal officials to clarify their position as opposing snowmaking using any water source -- potable or not -- that enhanced the viability of recreational skiing on the Peaks.

The drinking water option gave Snowbowl a new choice but also undercut the argument that the improvements would be entirely privately funded. It had to choose between keeping snowmaking financially independent or being the beneficiary of an $11 million federal grant and getting out from under the time-consuming lawsuit questioning the safety of reclaimed wastewater. It chose the latter, and it is still pursuing a reconsideration vote by the council."

Get the Story:
Editorial: Drinking water option opens Pandora's Box of issues (The Arizona Daily Sun 9/3)

9th Circuit Decision:
Navajo Nation v. US Forest Service (August 8, 2008)

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USDA wants ski resort at sacred site to use different water source (8/30)
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Wells Mahkee: No snowmaking in the sacred San Francisco Peaks (7/19)
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