The production of artificial snow using current snowmaking technology requires large volumes of water. Current forecasts for decreasing snowfalls in the near future due to global climate change will increase the reliance of ski resorts worldwide on snowmaking. Mt Buller is already heavily reliant on snowmaking to supplement natural snowfalls.
Currently water for snowmaking is drawn from Boggy Creek, a tributary of the Delatite River. Water is drawn out in winter, coinciding with natural periods of high water levels; this process does periodically reduce environmental flows in the Delatite River. This water is then pumped through pipes to snow-guns around the mountain that spray it out as snow onto the slopes. At the end of the season when the snow melts, the runoff ends up in either the Delatite or Howqua.
For more detail about the snowmaking process at Mt Buller, download the Snowmaking Fact Sheet
An innovative trial was conducted to assess the feasibility of using the treated effluent from the wastewater treatment plant as a source of water for snowmaking. This has twofold benefits:
- Decreased volumes of effluent released to the environment;
- Decreased extraction of water from Boggy Creek
Before the wastewater can be used for snowmaking it must be further purified for health and environmental reasons. This is achieved using ultra-filtration to produce clean, pure water. This water can then be used for snowmaking. The Mt Buller and Mt Stirling Alpine Resort Management Board was recognized for this work by the United Nations Association of Australia at the World Environment Day awards in 2002. Click here to download a media release of this event. Work commenced in November 2006 to construct a $3.5 million Class A Treatment Plant to provide up to 2 million additional litres of recycled water for snowmaking per day.