Vail Valley Voices: Water quality is crucial
The Vail community became concerned about water on Sunday, Oct. 30, when a truck carrying hazardous material crashed on Vail Pass. As the board chairmen of the two local governments that own and operate the public water systems from East Vail through Cordillera, know that the safety of your public water systems is our top priority.Our boards and staff are dedicated to ensuring the public health of our community. The public water system affects 100 percent of the community, 100 percent of the time. That is a massive responsibility.Our staff works every day to keep you confident in your drinking water. Your public water systems rely on local waterways to produce high quality drinking water. Thus, Eagle River Water & Sanitation District and Upper Eagle Regional Water Authority also take steps to protect and improve water quality in Gore Creek and the Eagle River as part of our mission.When our source waters are threatened, we take swift and deliberate action to shut down intakes on local waterways to protect water treatment facilities from any potential contaminants they are not designed to remove. The water treatment process produces high quality drinking water and is constantly monitored until finished drinking water is released to the public water distribution system. Water that is already in the distribution system (e.g., main lines, storage tanks, residential and business service lines) remains unaffected by potential threats to local waterways.When environmental accidents occur, such as the Oct. 30 hazardous material spill, emergency responders work to contain harmful materials. As part of routine emergency response, if a substance threatens a waterway, our staff is notified — at any time of day — as they were on this recent Sunday. Decisions to shut off water intakes are done as proactive, precautionary measures because, when public safety is concerned, an abundance of caution is the right decision.Closing the link from the river strengthens the separation of the natural waterways from the secure, treated water distribution system. Fortunately, over many years of public investment in our water infrastructure, your public water systems are flexible, reliable, and better equipped to respond to different water supply challenges.Current and past boards have supported significant system improvements that provide a variety of water sources, redundancy in the water system, and remote monitoring of hundreds of system components and water quality parameters, to continue our mission of providing high quality, reliable water service.In a post 9/11 world, we are compelled to speak only in general terms about our systems to keep them safe. We stay ahead in a complex, technical industry by ensuring we have a highly trained and committed staff. As local governments, your boards of directors are your friends and neighbors with long records of serving the community (go to http://www.erwsd.org).Our public service organizations are vital to everyday life. Public trust in our operations is essential. We appreciate your confidence in the public drinking water systems and welcome your comments.Rick Sackbauer and Tom Leonhardt are the board chairs of Eagle River Water & Sanitation District and Upper Eagle Regional Water Authority, respectively. Eagle River Water & Sanitation District owns, operates, and maintains the Vail public water system. Eagle River Water & Sanitation District also operates and maintains, by contract, the Upper Eagle Regional Water Authority public water system, which provides water service to Arrowhead, Avon, Bachelor Gulch, Beaver Creek, Berry Creek, Cordillera, Eagle-Vail and Edwards.