Eagle River Valley State of the River meeting is Wednesday
VAIL, Colorado – A historically low snowpack combined with an earlier-than-normal runoff could make this summer a difficult one for water management in the Eagle River Valley – a place where life is sustained by the Eagle River and its tributaries.The National Integrated Drought Information System has declared a severe drought in Eagle County and an extreme drought in part of the Colorado River Basin. As of May 24, snowpack levels in the basin stood at 11 percent of average.The public can learn more about current drought conditions, water supply, and streamflow forecasts at the annual Eagle River Valley State of the River public meeting set for 5:30-8 p.m. Wednesday at the Berry Creek Middle School auditorium in Edwards. The event is free and is hosted by the Eagle River Water & Sanitation District, the Colorado River District and the Eagle River Watershed Council.The event begins at 5:30 p.m. with a casual reception with light dinner snacks and soft drinks. The evening program begins at 6 p.m. with Mage Hultstrand from the Natural Resources Conservation Service presenting about this winter’s record low snowpack, current river conditions, and streamflow forecasts.John Mark Seelig with Lakota Guides, John Packer with Fly Fishing Outfitters, and Linn Brooks with Eagle River Water and Sanitation District will discuss plans to mitigate drought impacts locally from a rafting, fishing, and public water system provider perspective. Kendall Bakich with Colorado Parks and Wildlife will address the possibility of voluntary fishing closures being instituted locally.The meeting also will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Colorado River District, which was formed in 1937 to protect Western Colorado water against diversions across the mountains to the Front Range. Chris Treese will talk about the Colorado River District’s 75-year history, the statewide Water 2012 celebration, and update the public on the Colorado River Cooperative Agreement, which was signed in February by Eagle River Water & Sanitation District, Upper Eagle Regional Water Authority, Eagle Park Reservoir Co., and Eagle County.The program concludes with an update on Eagle River Valley waterways – Gore Creek, Eagle River and the Colorado River. Brooks, Melissa Macdonald with Eagle River Watershed Council, and Eagle County Commissioner Jon Stavney will participate in a panel discussion about recent and planned initiatives that aim to improve water quality and stream health in the Eagle River Valley.For more information, contact Eagle River Water and Sanitation District at 970-477-5457 or the Eagle River Watershed Council at 970-827-5406.