Letter: Reduce urban runoff to improve water quality in the Colorado River | VailDaily.com

Letter: Reduce urban runoff to improve water quality in the Colorado River

The issue of urban runoff is prominent in our community of Vail and poses a threat to our most valued water sources. Pollutants stemming from various nonpoint origins flow directly from the gutter to our streams and rivers, degrading the water quality, which can be detrimental to environmental ecosystems and hurtful to human health.

With more than 40 million people relying on the Colorado River, this is a significant subject that needs confrontation. Urban runoff programs are unfunded, and other projects frequently take priority. This results in an inadequate amount of financial support and a weaker urban runoff management system.

Another component of these systems that is lacking is the educational factor. It is essential that the community know of the problems caused by urban runoff and how they can fulfill their part in reducing the impacts of this problem. Examples would be proper disposal of household hazardous wastes, chlorinated water from pools, fluids from leaking vehicles and leaks from outside garbage cans and dumpsters.

Limiting the use of herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers is also key to avoiding the flow of harmful substances down the storm-water drain. The diminishment of pollutants such as oil, sediments, chemicals and animal waste that deluge down our streets and into the gutter after a storm or during snowmelt would reap substantial benefits to all ecosystems relying on our streams and rivers.

Investing in minor infrastructural changes such as the introduction of permeable pavement, green roofs, grass buffers, grass swales and bio-retention for our community would assist in addressing this problem, as well. They are environmentally friendly solutions and would encourage infiltration while reducing imperviousness. By making small improvements to our community such as these, we could improve the water quality of the Colorado River and ultimately better the lives of those who rely on it.

Belle Ebner

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