County’s RiverSmart program kicks off |

County’s RiverSmart program kicks off

Cliff Thompson

When it comes to protecting the Eagle River, the first thing most people think about is the quantity of water. But a new program in Eagle County – RiverSmart- wants to bring water qualtity issues into focus.

“We have a great awareness of quantity,” said Caroline Bradford, director of the Eagle River Watershed Council. “We want everyone to pay greater attention to the quality of the river.”

RiverSmart is part of a 12-year-old global grassroots sustainability effort by Swiss Re, a multinational insurance agency, to educate people about their individual role in creating and preventing water pollution.

Bradford said the local RiverSmart campaign will be financed by a $6,000 grant from Swiss Re. It will feature English and Spanish advertising messages on TV and radio, in print and on local buses.

Water quality issues literally begin at home, Bradford said. Common household practices such as dumping solvents and other substances down the drain, or failing to fix an oil leak in a vehicle, can have a detrimental effect on water quality, she said.

Studies show a quart of used motor oil dumped down a storm drain can create an oil slick 23 acres in size.

A National Geographic Society river poll shows American have a low “river IQ,” because they lack basic knowledge about rivers and fail to recognize that rivers and streams are all part of an interconnected system.

Nearly two-thirds of American wrongly believe water is a renewable resource, the study states.

Cliff Thompson can be reached at 970-949-0555 x450 or

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