Balsams gets OK to draw water from Androscoggin

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The Balsams Resort in Dixville Notch, N.H., received permission from the state to draw water from the Androscoggin River for snowmaking, at what a news release says will become the largest ski resort in the northeastern United States.

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services granted The Balsams a Water Quality Certificate under Section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act, the release stated.

“Our vision is to redevelop The Balsams into a true, year-round destination resort, which includes a major expansion of The Balsams Wilderness Ski Area,” said Les Otten, who is leading the redevelopment team. “We plan to install the latest snowmaking technology to augment Dixville’s abundant natural snow, so receiving this permit is an important step forward.”

The certificate will allow the resort to draw Androscoggin River water and transport it approximately 9 miles via underground pipe to Dixville for snowmaking activities between Oct. 15 and March 15, the release said. The permit also allows withdrawals for fire suppression activities, if needed.

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In its responses to comments submitted during the permit review process, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services said of the proposed withdrawals, “. . . DES does not believe it will significantly impact operation of the hydroelectric facilities on the river or the permit limits for the municipal wastewater treatment facilities in Berlin and Gorham, N.H. Since the river is heavily used for industry and recreation, its flow is monitored in real time by several gauges, including a U.S. Geological Survey gauge in Errol that has been providing flow data for more than 100 years.”

The proposed Balsams’ redevelopment includes renovating the historic Dix House, Hampshire House and Hale House, as well as the Panorama golf course and clubhouse designed by course architect Donald Ross, the release said.

The Balsams Lake Village, which will encompass the Dix and Hampshire houses, will feature a new Lake Gloriette House hotel, a 500-seat conference center, Nordic hot baths and spa, a performing arts center and an open-air marketplace. The resort’s fine cuisine and chef training programs will return through multiple dining opportunities around the resort. All will embrace the farm-to-table concept by sourcing locally-grown meats, produce and dairy, the release stated.

The plan also includes expanding The Balsams Wilderness Ski Area into the largest and most technically advanced ski resort on the East Coast, according to the release. “With a skiing base camp at 2,350 feet above sea level, in a true Alpine climate zone, The Balsams is known to receive among the highest annual snow totals of any ski resort in the Northeast. At build out, it will offer 2,200 acres of Alpine terrain accessed by 23 lifts, and 100 kilometers of Nordic trails.”

Information about the resort is available at www.thebalsamsresort.com.

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