“Follow the science” has been a commonly heard term during these COVID times; and for good reason. Following the science means paying attention to what the scientific data is telling us and adjusting policies and practices as necessary to help to limit the spread of the virus until a vaccine can be developed and administered. Here at Sugarbush, we have been following the science for a long time. In ways completely unrelated to the current pandemic, we’re working to ensure the long-term health of the resort.
Behind the scenes at Sugarbush, we are busy safely operating several wastewater treatment facilities, public drinking water systems, stormwater systems, snowmaking systems, and other facilities. These can have direct impacts to our environment and public health. Certainly not on the radar to most of our resort guests (whether it’s a powder day or not is likely a more immediate concern!), the successful operation of these systems is directly tied to the success of the resort.
Let’s take wastewater treatment, for instance. Our two largest wastewater treatment facilities are located at Lincoln Peak. Together, these systems typically treat over 20 million gallons of wastewater every year. Because this wastewater is discharged to in-ground leach fields, there is a lot of environmental monitoring that occurs. We need to determine if this wastewater discharge is having any effects on groundwater and surface water quality. We not only look at water chemistry – nitrogen and phosphorus levels, for instance – we also conduct studies in our local streams in which we physically count and characterize the aquatic organisms at sampling stations. The types and numbers of aquatic organisms in these streams is a strong indicator of the long-term water quality. We are continuously examining this data as it is collected0 and making any operational adjustments as necessary, to ensure that the operation of our wastewater treatment facilities is consistent with excellent groundwater and surface water quality.
Similar considerations and monitoring exist for our other systems, too. Whether it is consistent monitoring of stream flows in the waterways from which we withdraw water for snowmaking to ensure aquatic organism health, thorough inspections of our stormwater systems to prevent erosion and sedimentation, or continuous monitoring of drinking water quality to ensure safe drinking water. We are constantly examining this data – following the science – to ensure that these systems are operating effectively without any adverse environmental or public health impacts.
These systems, and others, are integral to the successful operation of Sugarbush Resort. It would be impossible to operate without them, even though they are rarely front of mind to our guests. Enjoying an exhilarating ski run beats thinking about stormwater any day! But even though these are things that are likely the last thing on your mind as you follow your favorite ski trail down the mountain, you can rest assured that Sugarbush Resort is following the science to ensure the continued existence of our clean and healthy environment that is such an important part of the Sugarbush experience.