Gore Creek and Eagle River receive annual checkups, ensuring water health
The annual water quality test checks the waterways health at 27 sites
On Sept. 5 and 6, Eagle River Water & Sanitation District conducted its annual water quality sampling of Gore Creek, Eagle River and their aquifers.
During the two-day checkup event, district employees donned waders and nitrile gloves to collect data at 27 sites. Gore Creek, Eagle River, and their aquifers are the sources of most drinking water provided between East Vail and Edwards and they both serve as the receiving waters for wastewater effluent (or cleaned water).
Data was collected to calculate flow rate and as many as 10 different water quality parameters were either collected in the field or later analyzed with laboratory equipment. Field measurements included pH, temperature, conductivity, and dissolved oxygen; and water samples are sent off for laboratory analyses of nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorous), metals and more.
Data and analyses from this annual sampling event are combined with additional water quality data and macroinvertebrate data from across the watersheds and evaluated in an annual study. This study started in 2008, and just like someone’s annual wellness visit, it helps identify any potential health issues before they become a bigger problem.
It can also lead to action like the Restore the Gore campaign. More than a decade ago, this study helped identify urban runoff as the main cause of pollution in Gore Creek and led to initiatives — such as restoring riparian buffers and native vegetation to help filter pollutants — that directly address the problem.
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The district conducts annual water quality sampling in September because that is typically when streamflow is low and predictable, and data and samples can be collected safely.
There are about 85 CFS (cubic feet per second) of water flowing in the Eagle River through Avon right now, which is about 25 times less than the peak flow in June. The district monitors streamflow levels using data from United States Geological Survey (USGS) gauges ( their streamflow graphs are available at ERSD.org). Although a decrease in flow through summer and into fall is typical, low streamflow means it’s a good time to let your lawn go brown along with the falling leaves.
Find out more about local water and wastewater services and what you can do to protect the Gore Creek and Eagle River watersheds at erwsd.org.