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Summer water restrictions on order

Cliff Thompson

If you1re planning on putting in a new lawn from mid-June to mid-August and you live between Dowd Junction and Wolcott, you1re going to be out of luck.

New watering restrictions on new sodded and seeded lawns will be enforced for the first time ever by the Upper Eagle Regional Water Authority.

New laws require huge amounts of water, and water is something the authority is worried about this summer. Those restrictions will be enacted from June 15 to Aug. 15.

It1s not the lack of snowpack that is forcing the restriction to be imposed, it1s having to supply treated water to the midvalley area, said Steve Wilson, water department manager for Upper Eagle River Water and Sanitation.

3Its not a source issue,² Wilson said. 3We have the water. It1s our mechanical limitations on being able to pump it and store it.²

Blame the easement

That lack of treated water is due to a delay in completing a new, $11 million water treatment plant in Edwards. When built, it will be capable of supplying an additional 10 million gallons per day.

That construction was delayed more than 90 days, however, by a squabble last year between the water district and Federal Highway Administration over an easement through the Edwards rest area. The water plant is scheduled be on line in October, easing the supply crunch.

Initially the plant will supply up to five million gallons per day.

Issuance of new permits for sodded and seeded lawns, which are issued by municipalities and Eagle County, will be suspended from mid-June through mid-August, which is the period of highest water demand in the valley. The area the restriction will be enforced includes Avon, Bachelor Gulch, Beaver Creek, Berry Creek, Cordillera, Eagle-Vail, Edwards, Mountain Star and Wildridge.

Summer water use jumps

Irrigation of golf courses and lawns cause water use in the valley to skyrocket in summer to where it bumps up against the Avon water plant1s capacity of 10 million gallons per day. Water use in summer is more than double what it is in peak ski season, Wilson said.

3Last year we came very close to running out of water in Cordillera. Our storage tanks were down to 3 feet of storage.² Wilson said. 3We can1t take a risk of running out of potable water and water for fire protection.²

In addition to restricting new lawns, the water authority will also be enforcing an odd-even watering schedule. Watering days will be determined by the final number of your street address.

3We have notified all landscape contractors and all town and county officials,² Wilson said.

When there is heavy demand on the Avon water plant, water can be downloaded from Vail, which gets the preponderance of its water from wells. Vail will not be included in the watering ban.

3Last summer was a wakeup call. We knew we were too close this summer,² he said.

Water demand in the valley has increased 18 percent since 1997. Approximately 5,500 water users fall within the restricted watering area.

For homeowners and homeowners associations, the water district will do a free audit of water use and demonstrate how to reduce it.

The Avon water plant has proven reliable. It has redundancy. One half can operate even if the other can1t, Wilson said.

How stringently the restrictions will be adhered to may be a function of how much rain we get this summer.

Said Wilson, 3If it rains every day the board could reconsider the ban.²


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