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City of Grand Junction News

Posted on: January 8, 2021

City Partners with Powderhorn Mountain Resort on Snowmaking System

Snowmaking machine at Powderhorn Ski Resort

Thanks to a collaborative agreement with the City of Grand Junction, Powderhorn Mountain Resort celebrated opening day on December 3rd, ten days ahead of the 2019/2020 season. The installation of a new snowmaking system which draws water from the City’s Anderson Reservoir #2 made early opening possible this year. 

The City partnered with Powderhorn to develop a gravity-fed water delivery system for snowmaking operations at the mountain resort. Anderson Reservoir #2 is located at elevation 10,360 feet on the Grand Mesa, 560 feet above the top of Bill’s Run. Since water is delivered by gravity, the new snowmaking system is one of the most energy efficient snowmaking operations in North America. “Most snowmaking systems use multiple, large 300 to 500 horsepower pumps to push snowmaking water uphill from the base. Powderhorn’s system is unique in that very small pumps are used to charge the system, and then can be turned off, using only gravity to feed the system at the correct pressures needed for snowmaking guns,” mentions Ryan Schramm, Powderhorn’s General Manager. “This results in significant energy savings over a traditional system, keeping electricity costs low and correlating to our company’s long term commitment to sustainable operations.” 

Under the agreement with the City, Powderhorn can purchase up to 140 acre-feet of water per year beginning October 15th of each season. Powderhorn began testing the new snow guns in late October and has used 44.5 acre-feet of water so far. Unlike water that may be consumed in other uses, water flowing through the snowguns is frozen into snow on the trails, which then melts back into the watershed every spring. 

The agreement between City of Grand Junction and Powderhorn Mountain Resort maximizes the benefits from available water resources while safeguarding the City’s water quantity and quality, including the surrounding land and ecosystem. The City entered into the agreement with Powderhorn in February 2019 after conducting a thorough analysis to ensure that the supply to Powderhorn would not compromise City water supplies. “Once we identified Anderson #2 as an option, we had our consultant evaluate potential impacts to the City’s water supply. The 140 acre-feet is only a small fraction of the City’s water supply. The Kannah Creek watershed can reliably yield 6,400 acre-feet of water. Even if we have two drought years in row, our model indicates that we can meet annual water demands and maintain 6,000 acre-feet in storage going into the winter months,” stated Randi Kim, Grand Junction Utilities Director. 

Pumping from Anderson #2 has the added benefit of aligning the new pipeline along the same path as the proposed connector trail and reducing the pipeline length by 1,500 feet. The City worked closely with Powderhorn during the design and construction phases of the project to expedite the project ahead of the 2020/21 ski season. “The City helped us accomplish this project on a tight timeline by reviewing design plans, providing necessary easements, and providing lay down areas for construction,” Schramm added. 

Contact: Greg LeBlanc, Sr. Assistant to the City Manager | 970-244 1557 or gregoryl@gjcity.org

Ryan Schramm, General Manager, Powderhorn Mountain Resort | 970-268-5700 

Ryan Robinson, Director of Marketing and Communications, Powderhorn Mountain Resort | 970-268-5168

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