Cultural snow cover: what is the situation in Savoie?

Since 2011, the Departmental Directorate of Territories has been collecting a set of data on cultivated snow cover from ski resort operators in Savoie. This allows the State services to publish today a brochure giving an overview.

During the 2019-2020 season, an additional 75 hectares were covered with artificial snow, bringing the total of the equipped area to 2,462 hectares. This represents more than a third of the surface of the slopes in Savoie (34.7%). “The operators of stations often invoke the much higher figures of the Austrian or Italian stations to justify the development of the installation of snow guns” , indicates Éric Valla, head of the service of territorial forecasting, within the departmental direction of the territories, who creates this observatory of artificial snow in Savoie.

WHAT CONSUMPTION?

We also note that the volume of water abstraction amounts to 7.9 million m 3 , in the high average of the last five seasons. “While cultivation snow cover works throughout the winter season, it is particularly used at the start and end of the season, to guarantee customers optimum snow cover on the slopes”, continues Éric Valla. The 2019-2020 study shows that the water used for cultivation snowmaking comes mainly from watercourse reservoirs (37%, i.e. + 7% compared to 2018-2019), while the share of withdrawals direct in streams goes from 17% to 12%. Note that half of these direct withdrawals are made from hydroelectric dams. The volume that can be stored in the station via the hill reservoirs has now reached 3.1 million m 3 , or + 7.5%, and the trend is rather upward, with operators wishing to limit withdrawals from the natural environment as much as possible.

WHAT ABOUT THE ROLE OF DDT?

In terms of the environment and land use planning, the DDT is the reference authority for operators, to validate or not projects for the construction of reservoirs and snowmaking networks, but also on extraction authorizations. It also participates in the departmental committee for water resources and monitoring of low water levels, with other public establishments, communities and representatives of the various users of water resources.

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