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Tapping natural resources Fake snow use highlights water usage

Today nearly half of Swiss ski slopes use artificial snow. Every season snow cannons use as much water as the city of Basel. (SRF/swissinfo.ch)

The ski region of Corviglia near St Moritz adds artificial snow to 80% of its slopes. Half of the water is taken from a newly built storage lake. The rest is pumped up from the valley.

In Motta Naluns in the lower Engadine, saving water isn’t an issue either. On the contrary. Artificial snow makes up a third of the region’s water consumption and is expected to use a lot more in future. Motta Naluns cable cars director Egon Scheiwiller claims the resort has to be able to make snow all the way through, in order to compete with other regions when the season begins. Since the existing storage lake is too small and can’t be expanded, the water will be pumped up from a nearby water power plant. Water that would have been used to make electricity.

The WWF fears that increasing artificial snow could have serious consequences on the eco system. The WWF Graubünden CEO Anita Mazzetta believes that in future more sources will be tapped and ground water will need to be processed. Slope operators say they use the amount of water permitted by law. In St Moritz those responsible for the ski region are convinced that the new storage lake will benefit the eco system in the end since far less water needs to be pumped up from the valley. A long-term plan still needs to be developed. 

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