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Hopi Settlement

Hopi urge Flagstaff Council to approve lawsuit settlement

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2004: Snowbowl water protesters

Protesters at a 2004 rally to protest the use and sale of reclaimed water to Snowbowl.

Hopi tribal leaders are urging the city of Flagstaff to approve a settlement agreement between the two government entities on the use of reclaimed water at Arizona Snowbowl.

In a press release, Hopi Tribal Councilman Norman Honanie said, “cleaner water on the San Francisco Peaks benefits the city, fits in with the city’s green goals and recognizes the importance of this issue to the Hopi Tribe and all of the members of the Flagstaff community.”

The agreement would end a lawsuit the Hopi Tribe filed against the city in 2011 in which it called the city’s sale of reclaimed wastewater to Arizona Snowbowl to make snow a public nuisance.

Under the agreement, which was released to the public on March 4, the city would be responsible for building a $1.6 million earthen filtration system to further clean the water traveling from the city’s reclaimed water system to the Arizona Snowbowl for man-made snow. The filter would be located at Thorpe Park behind the pumping station the city uses to transport reclaimed water to Snowbowl.

Council tabled a decision on the agreement last week after several members raised concerns about where the funding for construction and an additional $181,000 per year to maintain the system would come from.

Vice Mayor Celia Barotz and Councilmembers Eva Putzova and Coral Evans also asked why other tribes were not included in the discussion of the agreement.

Mayor Jerry Nabours and Councilmember Karla Brewster asked why Snowbowl wasn’t included in the agreement. The city added Snowbowl to the lawsuit in 2014 in an attempt to help recover court costs.

According to the Hopi Tribe’s press release, the agreement also allows the tribe to continue to oppose snowmaking on the San Francisco Peaks, but recognizes that the filtration of the water is “an important step in ensuring the use of cleaner water for snowmaking, despite the Hopi Tribe’s continued opposition to snowmaking on the Peaks.”

The reporter can be reached at or (928)556-2253.


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Education/Business Reporter

Suzanne writes about education and business. She covers the local school district, charter schools and Northern Arizona University. She also writes the Sunday business features.

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