SEVEN SPRINGS, Pa., May 14, 2009 – The National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) has presented Seven Springs Mountain Resort with the 2009 Silver Eagle Award for Excellence in Water Conservation/Water Quality by a ski resort. The award hails Pennsylvania’s largest ski resort for its overall water usage and conservation techniques.
The 2009 Golden Eagle Awards for Environmental Excellence were announced Wed., May 13, during the NSAA National Convention and Tradeshow. Established in 1993, the Golden Eagle Awards recognize the environmental achievements of ski areas. The awards honor members of the NSAA, which represents the majority of ski area owners and operators in North America.
With the help of the Natural Resources Defense Council, a nationally-recognized authority on environmental studies, Seven Springs took a look at the resort’s overall resource and water usage and identified the areas that had the highest impact to overall consumption. These areas were its guest rooms and internal water usage.
To address the water usage in the guest rooms, 418 showerheads were replaced with low flow models, which cut the usage in half from five gallons per minute to two and a half gallons. Continued renovation to the resort will also include the installation of high-efficiency toilets and the use of waterless urinals in public restrooms.
To reduce the water and energy used for linen services, the hotel’s management team developed a program that allows resort guests to opt out of having their towels and washcloths replaced daily. The next steps in this program include expanding the program to allow them to opt out of replacing the bed sheets if their stay is longer than two days.
Seven Springs has also developed a potable water system that recycles water by treating and returning it back to drainage areas to recharge its sources. The next steps to this plan include expanding the water system in order to maintain a self-sufficient water supply for the resort.
Seven Springs has also developed a virtually closed-circuit water system for snowmaking. The water used for snowmaking is captured in a series of collector ponds at the base of the mountain, which are filled by rain, run-off and melting snow. During the snowmaking process, the water is pumped to the top of the mountain and then with the help of gravity, which minimizes energy use, it is supplied to more than 900 snowmaking towers on the mountain. The water is stored on the slopes in the form of snow until the melting process returns it through channels to the collector ponds for the process to begin again.
The installation of the low flow showerheads, along with the linen service options and the closed-circuit snowmaking system allowed Seven Springs to save 3.6 million gallons of water for the year 2008.
Seven Springs was also commended as a finalist for the Silver Eagle Award for Excellence in Energy Conservation/Clean Energy for its innovative snowmaking technique involving a solar panel.
The resort uses a 12-acre onsite reservoir, Lake Tahoe, for its main source of snowmaking water. The water must be maintained at a temperature of 39 degrees Fahrenheit, where water is most dense, while being pumped through the snowmaking nozzles. The resort tried using fountains to keep that water at the optimal snowmaking temperature, but the process was marginally successful.
The resort partnered with SolarBee, a world leader in circulating water in lakes, reservoirs and potable water tanks to improve water quality, to design a remedy. This resulted in the installation of a single solar-powered SB10000v12 unit, specifying optimal placement in the water as well as the most efficient intake depth settings. The SolarBee was successfully installed on October 30, 2008.
Capable of circulating 10,000 gallons per minute, the SolarBee circulates cold water from the bottom of the lake, enabling it to be fed directly to the pumps for the snowmaking process. The durable SolarBee provides day and night operation, enabling Seven Springs to make snow with ease. As a result, the resort can stay open for business whether natural snow is falling or not.