On Wednesday, a federal judge upheld a decision by the U.S. Forest Service to allow snowmaking with treated wastewater at a northern Arizona ski resort.
The ruling dealt a blow to environmentalists who are trying to stop snowmaking on the San Francisco Peaks.
American Indian tribes and Indian plaintiffs lost this argument in a separate lawsuit filed on religious grounds.
The Save the Peaks Coalition and a group of citizens sued the Forest Service in September 2009. They sought to have a judge force the agency to do a more thorough environmental assessment on the health and safety risks of using treated wastewater to spray artificial snow on the mountain that at least a dozen tribes consider sacred.
U.S. District Judge Mary Murguia in Phoenix said that the Forest Service adequately considered the impacts of the snowmaking plan and that the record supported the agency’s decision to allow it.
She also said the plaintiffs were not diligence when they failed to join the tribes’ 2005 lawsuit. Instead, they waited until that one was resolved before bringing another lawsuit. The judge feels that has prejudiced the defendants, who might be subject to serial lawsuits.