Day 1: SnowPod™ Installation at Saddleback Mountain
On Thursday, November 10, ReNewSnow and Saddleback installed two weirs on the stream running next to Green Weaver ski trail, just below the Pass. The upper weir is designed to channel water into a large pipe, so we can measure the total flow rate of the stream. The lower weir will create a water collection pool and function as the SnowPod™ intake.
These pools are not intended to store water. The volume of water required for snowmaking is enormous, and it would not be practical or cost-effective to build a sufficiently large reservoir. Moreover, Maine state regulations restrict water collection when the flow is below the Average Winter Flow Rate, and most of the time, it will be below this threshold.
Our plan is to recycle snowmelt and excess rainwater in the days following winter rainstorms, when the flow rate will often swell to more than ten times the winter average. This way, we will ensure we are having no impact on the local flora or fauna.
During these events, millions of gallons of snow will melt and drain down to local rivers and lakes. Our technology allows ski areas to recycle this water before it drains, thereby saving the energy required to pump it back up the mountain, and eliminating it’s associated carbon footprint.
At Saddleback, we believe a network of SnowPods™ could recycle approximately 100 million gallons per year, more snow than they typically make in an entire season.
Figure 1: Saddleback excavator brings the steel plate for the upper weir up the Green Weaver trail.
We used steel plates for this particular application because the road running along the Pass will often get washed down, spilling rocks into the stream. These plates should withstand this bombardment. In most locations, a barrier made from marine grade plywood or plastic would be sufficient and far easier to work with.
If you have sharp eyes, you will notice the upper weir has two pipe stubs. We only need the larger one to measure the flow. During the installation, the water will go through the smaller opening, allowing us to install our equipment on the larger stub. Once the installation is complete, we will seal off the smaller stub. It should remain sealed throughout the winter, unless we need to shut off the flow to repair our equipment.
Figure 2: Saddleback installs lower weir.
Figure 3: Saddleback crew prepares SnowPod™ to for transportation