Water worries to be shared at meeting | VailDaily.com

Water worries to be shared at meeting

Nicole Frey

AVON ” Grand County is in trouble ” water trouble, and water experts are worried Eagle County may one day share its fate.

With little water in the county’s possession and the looming possibility of losing even more, Grand County Commissioner James Newberry will share his county’s water predicament at the upcoming Waterwise Wednesday meeting, and talk about how the proposed Wolcott reservoir could further aggravate the situation.

“The river here is basically, in our opinion, is not a healthy river anymore,” Newberry said. “It’s all diverted to the Front Range. We’re going to give you a glimpse into the future. This is how bad it could get.”

Kirk Klancke of the East Grand Water Quality Board said the county’s concern is if the Wolcott reservoir is created, the Front Range will suck even more water from Grand County.

The Front Range is required to send a certain amount of water downstream on the Colorado River, but with the proposed Wolcott reservoir in place, the Front Range could take more water from Eagle County’s neighbor to the north while maintaining its obligation to supply water downstream.

“Previously the counties didn’t work together on water projects, and it’s real progress that we now realize the impacts of projects and are starting to work together,” Klancke said. “Denver doesn’t seem to care much about the health of the river unless they’re forced to.”

Tom Long, a Summit County commissioner, said his county is also being sucked dry by the East Slope and has reservations about the proposed reservoir.

“The water they’d divert would certainly come out of our skin,” said Long, who will speak Wednesday. “We’re not saying no. We’re just saying we need to take a closer look. We need some honest, realistic engineering.”

Representatives from the Eagle River Watershed Council, which hosts Waterwise Wednesday, haven’t taken a position on the reservoir but said hearing other counties’ perspectives will help the community’s understanding of the inter-connectivity of water in the region.

“We need to understand what would happen if the tables were turned and put ourselves in the shoes of people in other counties,” said Caroline Bradford, the director of the watershed council. “I want the community of the Eagle River Watershed to have this open forum and debate this issue as they are doing in Grand County and Summit counties.

“They talk more about it than we do… They have more to lose,” she said. “The implication right now is that we have everything to gain, but I’m not sure that’s true either.”

Staff Writer Nicole Frey can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14621, or nfrey@vaildaily.com.

Vail, Colorado

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