Copper Mountain is the First to Make White Gold Two Years in a Row

Copper Mountain, CO.September 26, 2002. Copper Mountain Resort began making snow for the 2002-03 winter season last night, giving Copper the coveted position as the first resort in North America to make snow for the second consecutive year. Last year, the resort began snowmaking operations on October 3, 2001 and was the first resort in the country to open on October 16th. Copper Mountain’s opening day this season is scheduled for November 2, 2002.

Recent capital improvements have allowed Copper to increase its snowmaking capacity while decreasing its overall water consumption. A C-90 compressor was purchased and installed last summer, enabling the resort to decrease its water usage by an average of 14% over the past two years. The compressor has also allowed the resort to produce the same amount of snow at higher temperatures. Copper’s snowmaking water supply comes from Clinton Reservoir, which is currently filled to capacity, despite a summer season that brought little moisture.

Contrary to common misconceptions, snowmaking operations use a relatively small amount of water. The entire ski industry in Colorado only uses a fraction of one percent of Colorado’s water on an annual basis. Agriculture uses 85 percent of the water in Colorado every year and municipalities (including residential lawn watering, bathing, dishwashing, etc.) use 5-6 percent.

In one ski season, Colorado’s entire ski industry (24 resorts) consumes about the same amount of water that is consumed by 6 golf courses during a summer. Eighty percent of the water used in snowmaking returns to the watershed in the spring as snowmelt and fills streams and reservoirs, which other water users such as farmers and households will use next summer. Only 20 percent of the water is “consumed” by evaporation. More than 20 percent would evaporate and be lost if the water were just kept in storage for the future.

Colorado Ski Country USA is the trade association for the 24 ski and snowboard resorts in the state.