Eagle River Water & Sanitation District: Construction = temporary disruption
It’s the high season for construction in the valley. Once the mountain closes, traffic cones and flaggers increase. Public projects generally mean an improvement to public services, but it takes construction — and temporary disruption — to get to the improvement.
As the water and wastewater service provider for East Vail through Edwards, Eagle River Water & Sanitation District infrastructure is everywhere in the valley’s built environment. With over 250 miles of water main and more than 200 miles of sewer main, plus thousands of manholes, fire hydrants, vaults, and more, nearly every construction project may affect water or wastewater infrastructure.
Building a home? You’ll need to connect to the water and wastewater systems. A new building? Ditto. Renovations? You probably need underground infrastructure located. A landscaping project? You also need locates. Parking lot project? You need locates. Maybe a water or sewer main needs to move. Road construction? Lots of coordination may be needed.
Given this, much district work takes place within others’ projects. There is routine collaboration and coordination with other public entities, such as the Colorado Department of Transportation, Eagle County, and local towns or special districts. Such partnerships result in reduced costs for our mutual taxpayers and one disruption, rather than multiple, for the public. These partnerships also create more complex projects, with numerous goals and priorities.
Many water system projects require water service to be temporarily shut off. Our goal is to minimize the inconvenience to customers as much as possible. Sometimes that means daytime shutdowns; other times, nighttime shutdowns are least disruptive. We notify the impacted properties of the planned temporary water service outage, which normally last from four to eight hours.
Occasionally a shutdown occurs due to a break in the main, which results from a variety of causes. These emergency shutdowns are an immediate inconvenience to affected properties. When these happen, our work crews stay onsite until repairs are complete and water service is restored.
Like every construction season, we have projects in the public roadway and others at our facilities that largely go unseen. Almost every project has the potential to affect water or wastewater service. Some projects, such as the CDOT Edwards Spur Road, include a planned water service outage to many nearby properties. New water main has already been installed. When the project timing dictates, likely in late May or June, this new main will be connected to the existing one and put into service — which requires a shutdown.
To prepare for a temporary water service outage, fill a bathtub or large bucket with water for hand washing and toilet flushing, and fill several pitchers for drinking or cooking needs. To flush a toilet during a water outage, pour a bucket of water into the bowl all at once. Learn how by watching this short YouTube video.
Once work is complete, crews re-open valves in the water main to restore water service. Properties may temporarily experience low water pressure until water lines refill. A temporary outage normally stirs up sediment that may briefly cause discolored water in some properties and will also likely cause cloudy water due to air in the system. The water is safe to drink, and you can best clear your pipes by running faucets that do not have a screen, such as those in tubs or an outside spigot. Flush your lines until the water runs clear.
Minimize construction-related disruptions by being prepared and staying informed. Though we may experience temporary inconveniences, construction season results in improved services.
Diane Johnson is the Communications & Public Affairs Manager for the Eagle River Water & Sanitation District. ERWSD provides efficient, effective, and reliable water and wastewater utility services in a manner that respects the natural environment. ERWSD’s water service area is Vail and Wolcott, while the wastewater service area is Vail to Wolcott. ERWSD also operates and maintains, by contract, the Upper Eagle Regional Water Authority public water system, which provides water service to Arrowhead, Avon, Bachelor Gulch, Beaver Creek, Berry Creek, Cordillera, EagleVail, and Edwards.