Snowmaking Opponents File for Time 

Arizona Daily Sun
07 July 2010

An attorney representing snowmaking opponents has asked a judge to temporarily prohibit construction at Arizona Snowbowl.

Attorney Howard Shanker filed a request for a temporary restraining order on Tuesday with Judge Mary Murguia, in the U.S. District Court for Arizona.

The action comes after Friday's decision by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to allow snowmaking and related construction on the Peaks, an approval that becomes effective next week.

Shanker's tribal clients failed to prevail in court in arguing that making snow with reclaimed wastewater on the sacred San Francisco Peaks violated their religious freedom.

But Shanker has another court hearing next week with new plaintiffs to contest the potential health and safety risks of using reclaimed wastewater on ski slopes.

To win a temporary retraining order, Shanker must prove either that he is likely to win this case, or that irreversible changes (logging, for example) will result if construction proceeds before his case is heard.

The USDA permit also allows snowmaking with potable water, and Snowbowl owner Eric Borowsky has said he will ask the Flagstaff City Council for potable water, which would require the council's approval of a new contract. The council already has approved the sale of reclaimed wastewater to Snowbowl.

The sale of potable water by city officials, will be discussed at length at a series of public meetings, starting with the city's water commission on July 29.

If approved, Snowbowl could tap directly into the city's potable water pipeline system, which carries a higher price tag than reclaimed wastewater. USDA officials have indicated they will attempt to underwrite the higher costs, but they have not made public commitments.

If the Flagstaff City Council rejects the sale of potable water for snowmaking, Borowsky could return to reclaimed water, pending the outcome of the current lawsuit against it.

So far, only the president of the Navajo Nation has stated, in documents to the Agriculture Department, that potable water would be less offensive on the mountains 13 tribes consider sacred.

No tribal official has publicly said potable water would be a better option.

Claimants in the reclaimed water case filed last September were the Save the Peaks Coalition and Kristin Huisinga, Clayson Benally, Sylvan Grey, Don Fanning, Jeneda Benally, Frederica Hall, Berta Benally, Rachel Tso and Lisa Tso.



Reprinted as an historical reference document under the Fair Use doctrine of international copyright law.