Snowmaking Upgrades: The Pond

More and more each subsequent winter, snowmaking makes the world go round. While we’re in the process upgrading snowmaking pipes and guns all over both mountains, there’s a lesser known project that’s just as important happening down at the bottom of the Sugarbush Access Road. This summer, we’re upgrading and replacing the existing snowmaking water withdrawal infrastructure on the Mad River, which is adjacent to the snowmaking pond off Rt. 100. The withdrawal infrastructure and pond currently provide 100% of the snowmaking water to Lincoln Peak. It’s pretty important stuff. This withdrawal infrastructure, constructed in 1995, includes a stop log dam, concrete foundation, Parshall flume, and high and low flow intakes to divert river water into the snowmaking pond when flow conditions in the river allow.

Typically, the stop log dam is manually installed in November and is in place until mid-March, when it is manually removed. Since 1995 the stop log dam has been fully replaced once and has incurred significant damage on several occasions. In addition to damage to the stop log dam (weir boards and stanchions), the concrete foundation that supports the stop log dam has had two significant failures – one in 2017 and the second in 2019. The vulnerability of this infrastructure is not a risk the resort wishes to take – especially during snowmaking season. In other words, we desperately needed to replace it.

The new dam that is replacing the stop log dam is an inflatable rubber bladder, which is beneficial to both snowmaking operations and to the Mad River. The new dam will help provide a much more reliable process for withdrawing water and maintaining the snowmaking pond throughout the year. The inflatable dam will also keep excavators and personnel out of the river at the start and end of snowmaking season and will allow for natural river conditions when it is deflated. The bladder automatically deflates during high flow conditions to allow debris such as trees and ice during floods to pass through and can manually occur when flow conditions do not support water diversion into the pond.

From a logistical standpoint, this construction activity will require a temporary trail closure for a portion of the Mad River Path Snowmaking Pond Trail Loop on the east side of the pond from the Plum Line trail intersection to the Punch Bowl. The path will remain open on the west side of the pond to the Punch Bowl. Please be aware of construction vehicle activity and share the road to and from the parking lot. Construction is anticipated to continue through the fall until the start of snowmaking season in late fall/early winter.

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