Eagle County: Water board seat up for grabs | VailDaily.com

Eagle County: Water board seat up for grabs

Matt TerrellVail, COC Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado The Eagle River Water & Sanitation District is holding an election Tuesday for four open spots on its board of directors, but theres only one contested race.Frederick Sackbauer is challenging incumbent Timm Paxson for a two-year seat in District 3, which includes Matterhorn, Intermountain, Eagle-Vail north of U.S. Highway 6, most of downtown Avon and Mountain Star. You dont have to live in District 3 to vote.Incumbents David Viele in District 2, Debbie Buckley in District 4, and Robert Warner Jr. in District 6 are running uncontested, which means theyll be re-elected to four-year terms.The board is charged with making major decisions concerning water in Eagle County. Among many powers, the district has the ability to construct and operate the facilities and lines needed for water and sewer service, the power to acquire water rights and the power to increase or decrease tap fees. Heres a quick look at how Paxson and Sackbauer say theyll handle the job.

1. Tell us a little about yourself and your qualifications.

My wife, Liz, and I are starting our fourth year as full-time residents of Vail. We both have a great love of the mountains and wilderness areas and their preservation. Our backpacking experiences through the years have shown us how these lands can be grossly mistreated, and taught us the need for strong guardianship.Liz and I have been married for 36 years and have one grown son, who is an environmental scientist and works with ground water. I was a process chemist during most of my career with Shell. In this capacity, I worked with chemical engineers if a process problem was related to chemistry, I was contacted for assistance. Often, these problems involved the identification and strategy for removal of trace contaminants, which could be found in either hydrocarbon or water streams. Thus, I am well acquainted with water chemistry and water quality.I have been an Eagle River Water and Sanitation board member since November, 2007. Other qualifications include: regular member of the Black Gore Creek Steering Committee; regular attendee of the Eagle Mine meetings; Eagle Mine Ltd. Technical Assistance Grant Board member; attended a two-day course on Colorado water law; attended a two-day course regarding the prediction of mining impacts and simple assessment tools for abandoned mine sites (Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Society of Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry); spearheaded the drafting of a letter to our Colorado legislators to support the revamping of the Good Samaritan Cleanup of hardrock mines.

2. Why are you running?I was appointed by the present board in November after the resignation of the District 3 board member. I sought the position because I saw an opportunity to apply my knowledge as a chemist and scientist to the issues of water quality. I have great respect for the current board of directors and their accomplishments, such as the recent settlement with Denver Water, and I think I will augment their breadth and knowledge with my scientific and technical expertise and perspective.Now that I am retired, I have the time and energy to devote to water issues. Not only can I continue to apply my scientific knowledge, but also I am able to help maintain, and advocate for increased water quality in the Eagle River drainage.3. What are some of the biggest challenges and decisions the district will face in the next couple years? How will you approach those issues?Valley population growth is the driver; Wolcott, the Ginn development, Red Cliff come to mind, in addition to the projects seen under construction in Vail, Avon, and Edwards. With the increased population comes the need for sustainable water sources. I will work with the board and water counsel to maintain and obtain water rights to be able to service our growing community. The board of directors are bound to spend our tax dollars wisely, increase our ability to serve, while encouraging water conservation.Also, with urban development comes the potential for increased river contamination. Included are higher phosphorus, nitrogen, and copper levels. Phosphorus and nitrogen encourage unwanted plant growth such as algae and Didymosphenia geminata (rock snot). Increased copper levels are often detrimental to fish populations. Increasingly in the spot light is the presence of pharmaceuticals. Thus, it is important that the District ensure that we not only have sufficient treatment capability, but keep abreast of leading edge treatment technology that returns water to the river that is higher quality than was taken out.Personally, I am a strong advocate for xeriscaping and water conservation. These practices are especially important in years of drought and the implications of climate change.

1. Tell us a little about yourself and your qualifications.

I have already served 14 years on the board, and 12 of those were as chairman. This shows my passion about water. I think that experience and expertise is why I am the best choice. We all know how important water is to our community, and how complex water rights can be. It takes a long time to begin to understand all the ins and outs, and to be able to develop and implement a vision for the future. When I was on the board previously, we achieved some key accomplishments to secure our districts water future, including: building the Eagle Park Reservoir augmentation and snowmaking system; fighting for the recreational in-channel diversion rights for Gore Creek; building the water interconnect system between Vail and Edwards; beginning the landmark water rights discussions between Western Slope and Front Range communities.We made some great strides on the wastewater treatment side as well, upgrading all of our plants, fixing the odor issues at Avon, and making sure we are well-positioned for future growth.2. Why are you running? Term limits forced me to leave the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District board two years ago. I did not, however, stop being involved.

I continue to serve on the Colorado Basin Roundtable, the Colorado Foundation for Water Education, the Eagle Park Reservoir Company, and the Denver Water Citizens Advisory Committee.3. What are some of the biggest challenges and decisions the district will face in the next couple years? How will you approach those issues?On the wastewater side of the equation therell need to be dialogue regarding a regional plant in Dowd Junction or elsewhere; on the water side therell be resolution to the growth issues. Ill approach them knowing that little if anything came for free for the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District. Others will have to obey the law and pay their fair share, too.

To vote in this election, you must be registered to vote in general elections in the State of Colorado and:A resident of the district for not less than 30 days; or the owner of taxable real or personal property situated within the boundaries of the district; or a person who is obligated to pay taxes under a contract to purchase taxable property in the district; or the spouse of someone who is the owner of taxable real or personal property within the boundaries of the district.There are four polling places located as follows. Voters may vote at any polling place.1. Town of Vail Town Offices (75 South Frontage Rd. Vail)2. Town of Minturn Town Offices (302 Pine St. Minturn)3. Eagle River Fire Protection District Avon Station (351 Benchmark Rd. Avon)4. Eagle County Health Service District Offices (AKA Eagle County Ambulance District: 1065 Edwards Village Blvd. Edwards)Polls are open Tuesday, May 6, 2008, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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