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Take care, conserve water

Rick Sackbauer and Bob Warner

May 4-10 is National Drinking Water Week, a time when municipal water suppliers around the country sponsor a variety of opportunities for the public to find information on how they get their drinking water, how it reaches their homes, how public water systems ensure the quality of the water, and how we can all help to make sure there’s enough water for everyone.Particularly during this period of drought, we at the Eagle River Water & Sanitation District and the Upper Eagle Regional Water Authority believe Drinking Water Week is an important awareness generator for all of us about ideas of wise water use, appropriate landscaping for our climate and water conservation.In addition, this is a good time to bring you up to date on the state of water affairs in eastern Eagle County and what the district and the authority have been doing to ensure our water availability.Many of you are aware that Eagle County is now a shareholder in the Eagle Park Reservoir Company (along with Vail Resorts, Eagle River Water and Sanitation District, Upper Eagle Regional Water Authority and Colorado River Water Conservation District).The Eagle Park Reservoir, located near the Climax molybdenum mines up by Leadville, is one of the main “buckets” that we use to store water during the spring for use during the rest of the year. We are currently in the design stage to increase the capacity of Eagle Park Reservoir. And by the way, we expect that it will fill to capacity this spring, ensuring the viability of snowmaking in upcoming winters and health of the stream year-round.The Black Lakes reservoirs at the top of Vail Pass also should fill to capacity this year, and we are working on expanding those, as well. Black Lakes empty in Gore Creek, so the Vail Golf Course, a main summer economic engine, should have plenty of water this year.Speaking of the Vail Golf Course, the district has proposed a loan of up to $70,000 to the Vail Recreation District so that the Vail Golf Course can use their irrigation water more wisely. The Recreation District is looking at installing two weather stations on either end of the course so irrigation does not occur during rainstorms; repairing the existing Gore Creek diversion structure so that the golf course does not take the entire flow of the stream in order to fill its ponds; building a new diversion structure so that other are able to fill; and studying increasing the size of two other ponds.At Homestake Reservoir, just south of Red Cliff, Aurora and Colorado Springs (two of the water shareholders) are moving forward to develop a project that benefits both the East and West Slope.Under a memorandum of understanding, those two cities have reduced their take of water from approximately 60,000 acre feet to 30,000 acre feet. Of the reduced 30,000 acre-feet, 10,000 acre-feet will go to directly benefit the Western Slope.In addition, we are in constant discussions with other Front Range water users and state authorities regarding the availability and use of water around Colorado. At a recent Colorado Water Congress meeting, the Denver Water Board talked about east-west cooperation and looking at projects in Eagle County that could benefit both Front Range and West Slope communities through water trades and building additional storage reservoirs. Projects like these take a lot of time and money to accomplish, but just getting to the table is a major accomplishment.As important as guaranteeing the supply of water is managing the demand for it. Our year-round customer education efforts get kicked into high gear during the summer months, and particularly during Drinking Water Week. Here are just a few of the programs we’re undertaking:n Providing various water awareness items to customers, such as rain gauges, toilet-leak detection tabs, a leak measurement tool, shower timers and faucet aerators. Simply call the district at 476-7480 to request any of the items.n Donating books on xeriscaping and climate-appropriate landscaping to the Vail and Avon public libraries, as well as building a library of their own.n Holding a poster contest in local schools, inviting students to come up with ideas for promoting wise water use and conservation.n Visiting local schools to introduce students to the concepts of xeriscaping and appropriate landscaping, teach them about the water system in the area, and encourage them to use water wisely at home and at school.n Partnering with the CSU Extension Office to train irrigation auditors who can help homeowners fine tune their irrigation systems.We had a good winter snow-wise, but we’re not done with this drought yet. It’s going to be a long, hot summer. But with the water acquisition and storage steps that the district and the authority are taking on your behalf, as well as your wise consumption of water, we can make it through this year in fine shape.If you’d like more information or have any questions, feel free to call us at 476-7480.


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