Flush factor shows flurry of activity | VailDaily.com

Flush factor shows flurry of activity

Cliff Thompson

Empirical evidence of the number of holiday visitors at Eagle County’s resorts during Christmas and the three-day Presidents’ birthday weekend shows a solid increase in visitors, though no records were broken.

But those numbers don’t from the corporate offices of publicly-traded Vail Resorts, which has a policy of not announcing the number of skiers who visit its mountains for fear of possibly running afoul of Securities and Exchange Commission regulations. The statistic come instead from the outpouring of “effluent” from a duo of wastewater treatment plans that serve Vail, Avon and Beaver Creek. It’s the most reliable means of quickly judging the volume of, er, business.

“Seems to me like we’ve got quite a few people in town,” said Bob Trueblood, wastewater manager for the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District. “Our work load is up from last year. We’re seeing a more consistent season than last year.”

The sewer plants base calculations on “biological contributions” to the system, said Trueblood. They are showing Vail had a 2 percent increase during the Christmas holiday and a 3 percent decrease during the Presidents’ Day weekend. Avon, specifically, saw a surge in wastewater during the Presidents’ Day Birthday weekend – an 18 percent increase – but activity was down during the Christmas holiday.

Based on wastewater activity, there were approximately 27,750 people per day in Vail over the Christmas holidays, up from the 25,500 who were here in 2002. During Presidents’ Day weekend, Vail’s wastewater stream indicates there were 26,000 folks using the facilities. During the same period in 2003, the numbers indicate there were 13,250 in town.

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At Avon’s wastewater plant, which is also used by visitors of Beaver Creek, the outflow during Christmas indicates there were 20,750 people compared to 17,500 in 2002. During the Presidents’ Day weekend, the flow indicated use by 17,500 people, an increase of 18 percent from 2003.

Sales-tax statistics for December released by the town of Vail showed a tiny 0.8 percent increase in economic activity.

The record outflow that occurred in 2000 in Vail and Avon corresponds with the record numbers of skiers at the valley’s resorts that season, Trueblood said. Those numbers are approximately 10 to 15 percent higher than those logged in the last couple of years.

Cliff Thompson can be reached via e-mail at: cthompson@vaildaily.com or by calling 949-0555 ext. 450.

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