Flush factor | VailDaily.com

Flush factor

Cliff Thompson

Cancellation of the town’s fireworks due to fire danger – coupled with the first rain in nearly a month – kept the expected crowd of 20,000 people away from the celebration.

Reflecting that trend, of course, was water usage, says the Upper Eagle River Water and Sanitation District’s water manager Steve Wilson. For example, average water production at the Avon water treatment plant from July 3 to July 7 this year was 7.29 million gallons per day, compared to last year’s 7.7 million gallons, Wilson says.

Water usage through the first part of the summer, however, actually is up 4 percent.

Water usage is seen as one indicator of the volume of tourism in the area, and the Fourth of July holiday weekend historically has been the point of peak water usage for the year for local water production facilities. Water use this year, the driest in a century, is being eyed because the water district is coming close to not meeting all its demands. A third water production facility in Edwards is under construction and will not be done until October, after peak demand has passed.

Since May 20, overall water usage from Dowd Junction to Bellyache Ridge is up 4 percent, says Wilson.

“I credit the cancellation of the fireworks and the rain,” Wilson says. “A lot of consumers actually shut off their (irrigation timers) when it rained.”

Wilson says he believes water restrictions also have helped. The water district has restricted the use of water for irrigation, including no-water Mondays and alternate-day sprinkling based on street addresses. Meanwhile, no new sod or seeded lawns may be irrigated until Aug. 15.

In Vail, the use of water for drinking and irrigation uses is available on a weekly basis only, and the outflow of the wastewater treatment plan there was down over previous years, too, says Bob Trueblood, wastewater manager.

“We’re down all the way across the board,” he says. “We’ve managed to do a better job of finding leaks and fixing them, plus the spring runoff was pretty much a non-event this year.”

Trueblood says the sewer system, like most, has inflow and infiltration of up to a million gallons of water. It happens mainly during spring runoff when ground water forces its way into the system.

The Vail wastewater treatment plant’s flow during the holiday period was 1.81 million gallons per day, down significantly from both last year’s 2.14 and 2000’s 2.48 million gallons per day.

At Edwards, the wastewater flow was 1.17 million gallons per day, down slightly from last year’s 1.29 million gallons per day and up slightly from 2000’s 1.15 million.

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