Odor, brown water might excite voters | VailDaily.com

Odor, brown water might excite voters

Nicole Frey
NWS Gore Creek SM 1-27

EAGLE COUNTY- When you turn on the faucet and water rushes out, where does the water come from? You can drink it, brush your teeth with it, but who makes sure the water is clean enough? Vail Valley resident Candace Rein doesn’t know, neither do Cynthia Mainhart, Tina Mann or Nathan Andrews.”I have no idea,” Rein said. “I don’t really think about it.” For most residents, water only becomes an issue when there’s a problem with it – when it’s brown or not there at all or the water treatment plant reeks of sewage. The Eagle River Water and Sanitation District is responsible for these functions most people take for granted. Beyond providing clean water in your home and treating sewage, the district’s board of directors also helps decide how much water will stay in the river to keep fish and bugs alive and how to provide water for the valley’s escalating population. The board also has a hand in figuring out how much of the area’s water will be sent to the Front Range. The board of directors have a load on their shoulders that seldom gets recognized. But five of those burdens will be up for grabs in a May election. While four of the board members are term-limited, incumbent Arn Menconi, who is also an Eagle County commissioner, will campaign to hang on to his seat.

Despite acknowledging the importance of the district’s work, some residents said they wouldn’t bother to vote for the district’s new directors. “I don’t know if to me it would make that much of a difference,” said Andrews, who had never heard of the water and sanitation district’s elections. Mann said she might come out if she knew about the elections and had the time to go vote. “I don’t really follow politics that much, but if there were big issues, like about the environment or water quality, I would vote,” Mann said. “We’ve got to make sure our Gold Medal stream is still a Gold Medal stream.”Gold Medal streams are designated by the Colorado Wildlife Commission and touted for their outstanding fishing. Just 168 miles of streams are designated gold in the state. The only Gold Medal stretch in the valley is Gore Creek in West Vail.It is precisely these environmental issues that make the elections so important, said Caroline Bradford, director of the Eagle River Watershed Council, a river watchdog group in Avon.”The current board has a good track record of releasing water, but will the next board by so environmentally friendly?” Bradford said.

The board can demand water be released into the river from reservoirs for the health of the fish and bugs there. But Bradford’s words may go unheard if more people don’t become interested in the May 2 water board election. “I’d rather have a more open election than one that is voted on by very few people,” said Anne Esson, an Eagle River Watershed Council board member. “If that’s not a big deal affecting all of us in the valley… I don’t know what is.”======================Who’s at the other end of tap• The Eagle River Water and Sanitation District provides water from East Vail to Dowd Junction and treats wastewater from East Vail to Wolcott. The district also operates Red Sky Ranch’s drinking water. • Minturn provides its own water .• The Upper Eagle Regional Water Authority provides water to Avon, Arrowhead, Beaver Creek, Berry Creek, Eagle-Vail, Edwards, Bachelor Gulch and Cordillera.

Get involved If you’re interested in running for the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District’s board of directors, contact Leslie Isom at 476-7480 or visit erwsd.org. The election is May 2. Candidates must be registered to vote and own property in the district in which they are running. The deadline to submit self-nomination and acceptance forms is 5 p.m., Feb. 24. The deadline to file a request to be a write-in candidate is 5 p.m., Feb. 27. =====================Staff Writer Nicole Frey can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14621, or nfrey@vaildaily.com. Vail, Colorado

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