Never before has a ski hill been so stoked to see rain.
Mount Washington started the 2022/23 ski season under an extreme water shortage. The resort urged guests to use outdoor porta-potties and bring their own bottled water.
But wet weather over the past several weeks has warded off a full-blown crisis.
The resort’s water is spring-fed from an aquifer and collected in reservoirs. Then the water is treated using a combination of ultraviolet and chlorination before being stored in a 500,000 gallon tank.
According to a recent statement on the Mount Washington website, as of January 4th the treated water storage tank was almost 96 percent full.
The resort credits its guests and residents for cutting their water consumption at a critical time. On January 3rd of this year, total water use was half of what was slurped, showered, and flushed down the drain on the same day last year.
Older toilets, like the public ones at Mount Washington, can use up to 25 L of water per flush. That’s a lot of treated water for a single pee.
Despite the reservoir recharge, Mount Washington isn’t taking any chances. They’ve kept the taps shut at water stations in the lodge. They’re also urging folks to take shorter showers, flush only when necessary, and conserve water wherever possible.
The resort was caught flat-footed by an exceptionally dry summer that extended well into the fall. Early season snowpack in the mountains sat at 25 percent of normal.
But all the precipitation lately has been good for the snowpack. It’s not completely back to normal, but it’s a big improvement.
Climate change means drought will be more common on VanIsle.
Mount Washington has not made any public comment about how it plans to avoid these kinds of water shortages in the future.
But with the future developments planned for the mountain, they’re going to have to start thinking about it soon.