Vail Daily letter: Recreation is a beneficial use for water | VailDaily.com

Back to: Opinion

Vail Daily letter: Recreation is a beneficial use for water

Thanks, Vail Daily, for your exceptional coverage of the past weekend's GoPro Mountain Games. Today's readers may not remember that early June used to be the time when about the only thing that was predictable was that we watched snow melt. Not any more.

One of your stories covered the early days of the Mountain Games from a historical perspective. Few people know that attending the initial meeting with Joel Heath and the town of Vail staff were Glenn Porzak, the water counsel for the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District, and myself.

Glenn identified two challenges to the long-term viability of the event. First, Denver Water had water rights that could collect and take the flow of Gore Creek. Secondly, Colorado law at the time did not recognize water left "in channel" for recreation as a beneficial use. However, the District intended to seek such an in-channel recreation water right.

The concept of recreational in-channel diversions went all the way to the Colorado Supreme Court, where we prevailed and recreational in-channel diversions were subsequently recognized by the Colorado legislature. The District and the Regional Water Authority then challenged Denver Water's water rights in court. After two weeks of trial, Denver Water agreed to abandon its water rights and gave up the ability to take Vail water to the eastern slope.

The future of the Mountain Games is now bright. Let it snow, and let it melt!

Clean water. Quality life.

Rick Sackbauer

Chairman, Eagle River Water and Sanitation District