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Ski Slope Turns Yellow After Ski Resort Uses Wastewater To Make Snow

Arizona ski resort's slopes tinged yellow.

Arizona ski resort becomes the first in the world to make artificial snow out of sewage. Unfortunately, this “green” snow has come out looking yellowish.

Arizona Snowbowl, in northern Arizona, wanted to make snow using reclaimed wastewater to save energy and ease water shortages.

J. R. Murray, Snowbowl’s manager, said the problem was likely from the rust residue in the snow-making equipment that carries wastewater from Flagstaff to the sewage treatment plant. However, Taylor McKinnon of the Center for Biological Diversity, a conservation group, says something doesn’t sound right. McKinnon told The New York Times:

“I question whether that explanation is based on tests of the water or conjecture. Something’s awry, and the onus is on the Forest Service and ADEQ (Arizona Department of Environmental Quality) to protect the public and determine the cause.”

Some places do use treated wastewater. In California, both Los Angeles and Orange County use treated wastewater in additional to groundwater. Even though people don’t necessarily like the idea that their water is coming from wastewater, psychologists say it is largely coming from an emotional place. Magical contagion is a concept that leads people to believe that, when two objects come into contact, they continue to affect each other even when there is no real contagion, according to Live Science.

In 2011, a study was conducted asking participants if they would willingly drink recycled wastewater. Carol Nemeroff, professor of social and behavioral sciences at the University of Southern Maine, who led the study said, “Some people just want [their water] to be certified safe; they don’t want to know the details,” according to Live Science.

Back at the yellow tinted Snowbowl ski slopes, Kaelan Monroe, 11, told The New York Times he went skiing on New Year’s Day and that the conditions were “kind of disgusting.” He added, “The snow is crusty and icy and doesn’t look very clean.” But he isn’t too concerned. “I’m not too worried about face-planting in the snow and getting sick.”

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