Village at Avon water deal clogged
What reservoirs and storage tanks the developer will use to replace the water, however, is still in question.
“We intend to fulfill our obligations,” said Rick Johnson, who works with Traer Creek. “There have been delays imposed on the project by the (water) authority. Further delays on providing water service will have an economic impact on the project.”
The Village at Avon, under construction on both sides of Interstate 70, comprises 650,000 square feet of commercial space –which including a Wal-Mart and The Home Depot set to open next year –and 2,400 residential units.
A hesitant Avon Town Council last week signed off on Traer’s Creek’s “augmentation plan.” In the deal, Traer Creek will lease its water rights to the town, then the town will sublease those water rights to the Upper Eagle Regional Water Authority. The plan also solidifies the developers agreement to replace the water the complex uses.
“I want to make sure we’re not going to be short on water at any point,” Councilman Buz Reynolds said.
That leaves the developer and the water authority to scrap over the final details of the plan. Save the courts, the water authority has the final say over water use in the region.
Glenn Porzak, a water lawyer, warned the Town Council the water authority would have strong doubts about the deal approved by Avon.
“I don’t understand why you’re recommending approval of a water lease that the water authority is going to reject,” Porzak said. “They’re going to say there’s not enough water. The authority is going to say you’re violating its rules and regulations.
“Until the matter is resolved,” he added, “there’s going to be no service.”
The dispute is caused in part by Traer Creek’s desire to use, among other storage facilities, the Eagle Park Reservoir as a source of the water that will replace what the complex consumes. The reservoir, at the headwaters of the Eagle River, is primarily used to make up for water shortages during dry spells, such as this year’s continuing drought, Porzak said.
“This year is a graphic example of why it’s not used each and every year,” Porzak said. “If people had squandered and used Eagle Park going into a dry year with reservoirs substantially down, we wouldn’t have had enough water to meet everybody’s requirements.
“You can’t rely on Eagle Park,” he said.
The Water Authority discussed the Village at Avon water replenishment plan at its meeting late last week but did not make a decision.
Gary Greer, a water lawyer consulting the town of Avon, said Traer Creek’s augmentation plan has more than enough water.
“There is more water in the augmentation plan than is required,” Greer said.
The original deal to provide water to the Village at Avon was made between the developer and the Eagle-Vail Metropolitan District. The land the Village is being built on in east Avon was then a part of unincorporated Eagle County.
When Avon annexed the land, the town had to abide by the developer’s agreements with Eagle Vail, which did not ask the Traer Creek to give up its water rights –only to lease them.
That part of the deal is a sore spot with Avon.
“I feel bad getting caught using what Eagle-Vail used because normally we’d want all the water rights. From what I’ve heard, in other districts that’s how it’s done,” Reynolds said.
Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.