Vail: ‘Restore the Gore’ campaign to kick off April 25

April 17, 2014


From the Vail Daily:

An awareness campaign to help improve the health of Gore Creek is being introduced this spring with a focus on best practices for landscapers and gardeners. The “Restore the Gore” kick off takes place April 25 with a free Moe’s BBQ lunch and learn session from 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. at Donovan Pavilion. Landscape contractors, gardeners, commercial applicators and lodging managers, in particular, are encouraged to attend. Lunch service will begin at 11:45 a.m. with presentations taking place from noon to 12:45 p.m.

Sponsored by the Town of Vail and the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District, the program will include short presentations on the causes of Gore Creek’s decline and the everyday actions that can be implemented to help make a difference when it comes to water use, special irrigation permits, invasive plants and pesticides.

In 2012 Gore Creek was added to the State of Colorado’s 303(d) List of Impaired Waters due to the decline in aquatic life. Scientists have determined the impact is due to degradation and loss of riparian buffer areas, impacts of urban runoff and pollutants associated with land use activities. A Water Quality Improvement Plan has since been adopted that includes an emphasis on community awareness as well as strategies for regulatory measures, site specific projects, best management practices and an ongoing monitoring program.

In addition to the lunch and learn kick off, the town is distributing a handout on recommended pesticide practices for commercial landscapers and property owners. Additional information is available on the town’s website at

If you plan to attend the April 25 lunch and learn program, please RSVP to Kristen Bertuglia, town of Vail environmental sustainability coordinator, at 970-477-3455 or email no later than 5 p.m. April 23.

More Gore Creek watershed coverage here.

The Eagle River Watershed Council: Snowmaking & Ski Area Water Rights ski tour, January 13

December 26, 2013
Copper Mountain snowmaking via

Copper Mountain snowmaking via

From email from the Eagle River Watershed Council

Join us Monday, January 13th to see firsthand what snowmaking is all about!

9 – 11:30 a.m. meet @ the base of Lionshead Gondola

With the expert guidance of Dave Tucholke, Vail’s Snowmaking Manager, we will be strapping on our skis and touring Vail Mountain to learn more about snowmaking: the history, equipment and process behind the snow we have come to rely on each November. Tom Allender, Director of Mountain Planning for Vail & Beaver Creek, will share his knowledge of ski area water rights and explain the mountain’s “plumbing system” from source to snow.

This will be a unique look at Vail’s snowmaking from atop your very own skis!


Space is limited, so please RSVP to to reserve your spot now!

**We will be spending most of the morning on skis so we ask that only intermediate and expert skiers/boarders sign up**

More education coverage here.

Drought news: ‘We’re going to operate our system in a way that’s protective of fish’ — Linn Brooks #CODrought

July 2, 2012


From the Vail Business Journal (Bob Berwyn):

If and when streamflows drop below certain levels, the Eagle River Water & Sanitation District could be forced to enact strict water-use limits on top of ongoing conservation efforts, according to district general manager Linn Brooks…

The community water system also includes the two Black Lakes reservoirs, near Vail Pass, as well as Homestake Reservoir and also has access to water in Wolford Mountain Reservoir and Green Mountain Reservoir. The water in the reservoirs is used primarily for augmentation, which means when the district removes water from Gore Creek and the Eagle River, it can replace that water from the reservoirs to compensate downstream users.

This year, the Homestake Reservoir water is not available because the reservoir has been drained for repairs. That complicates the overall picture a bit, but in any case, that augmentation water, even though it’s destined for downstream users, can help sustain stream flows in Eagle County.

For now, flows are tracking close to where they were during the 2002 drought, which at the time was characterized as a 500-year event by some water experts. Gore Creek flows are a little lower than in 2002, at about 20 to 30 percent of average for this time of year. High in the drainage, at a gage in the wilderness was reading only at 11 percent of normal…

A somewhat normal monsoon season, with intermittent rains from mid-July to mid- or late August would likely sustain flows enough to stave off the most drastic conservation measures this year. But summer rains don’t compensate for a lack of winter snow. Snowpack is the key for sustaining base flows throughout the summer. “Thunderstorms can come in and drop a lot of moisture, but the ground can’t absorb all that water. It surges through the system and gives a short-lived benefit. A good rainstorm can give a week of propped up rainflows, she said…

The district uses water from both Gore Creek and the Eagle River, as well as a handful of wells, and has the ability to shunt water in different directions through a web of pipes to meet the needs — and address potential shortages in different parts of the system…

The district also monitors stream temperatures. If the climb to a point deemed dangerous to fish, that could also trigger operational changes. “We’re going to operate our system in a way that’s protective of fish,” she emphasized.

More Eagle River watershed coverage here and here.

Eagle County water providers’ consumer confidence reports available online

July 26, 2011


From the Vail Daily (Lauren Glendenning):

In Eagle County, many municipalities provide their own water supplies to their citizens, and the county’s largest suppliers — the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District and the Upper Eagle Regional Water Authority — are reporting high marks in their recently released 2010 consumer confidence reports. “Managing the public water system is about protecting public health,” Eagle River Water and Sanitation District Water Division Manager Todd Fessenden said. “It’s important to inform people about their water supply.”[...]

The consumer confidence reports are required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and they show lists of the various contaminants found in local water supplies. Each public water supplier is required by law to produce the annual reports — something the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulates bottled water, does not require of the bottled water industry. The contaminants shown in the reports are the contaminants that were detected in that water supply during thousands of water quality tests that are performed over the course of any year. Even the cleanest of water supplies will show some levels of some contaminants. “The presence of contaminants does not necessarily indicate that the water poses a health risk,” the 2010 Water District report says…

The Eagle River Water and Sanitation District and Upper Eagle Regional Water Authority reports are available online at
The town of Eagle’s report is available at, under “news and information.”
The town of Minturn’s report is available at
The town of Gypsum’s report is available at, under “document center.”

More water treatment coverage here.

Cool photo of the week: Rainbows splashing into the Black Lakes during an Eagle River Water and Sanitation District stocking operation

July 9, 2011

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Click on the thumbnail graphic to the right for a photo of the stocking operation from Diane Johnson at the district. Here’s the release. Here’s an excerpt:

On July 6, the District coordinated the second stocking of 2,500 pounds of 10-16 inch long rainbow trout into the two Black Lakes, located adjacent to Interstate 70 near the Vail Pass exit. The first 2,500 pounds of trout were stocked on June 21. The fishery supplying the trout says the 5,000 pounds equates to about 2,000 fish.

The trout are raised by a Boulder based fishery that is licensed and health inspected by the Colorado Department of Agriculture and the Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW). The DOW annually tests the fishery’s trout to assure each lot is healthy and free of disease.

The District stocks the lakes annually with “catchable rainbow trout” under the terms of a 1986 agreement with the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. The two cold water reservoirs are operated as part of the water supply system developed by the District, which serves the Town of Vail and by contract, the communities of EagleVail through Cordillera.

At various times of the year, the District releases water from the two lakes which flows down Black Gore Creek and into Gore Creek, which runs throughout the Town of Vail. The released water augments Gore Creek streamflows and can be used per District water rights. The Colorado DOW partners with the District to operate Black Lake 2 in support of fishing, wildlife habitat, and recreation.

More Gore Creek watershed coverage here and here.

Conservation: Vail watering restrictions

June 23, 2011

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From the Vail Daily:

The regulations prohibit outdoor water use on Mondays and require customers to adhere to an odd/even watering schedule on Tuesday through Sunday. Also, watering must occur before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. to minimize losing water to evaporation. Property owners may water up to three days per week; those with a street address ending in an odd number can water on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Those, with a street address ending in an even number may water on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

More conservation coverage here.

Snowpack news: Vail hits the 500 inch mark for snowfall this season

April 23, 2011

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From the Vail Daily (Lauren Glendenning):

[Vail Mountain Chief Operating Officer Chris Jarnot] said snowfall measured at the top of the mountain puts this year just outside of the top five best years as of Wednesday, but it’s not an apples to apples comparison to previous seasons because the timing of when the resorts starts measuring snow for the season has been different throughout the years. This season is the best snow year since the resort started measuring at Mid-Vail 10 years ago, he said.

Things are not looking good for irrigators in the San Luis Valley. Here’s a report from Matt Hildner writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

While not nearly as dry as 2002 or 2003 when drought blanketed the state, Cotten said this year’s season is shaping up to be like 2004 or 2006, which both were below average. Given that the valley’s streams and rivers are over appropriated, meaning there’s not enough water to fill all of the area’s water rights, some water users will go without this year. Cotten predicted there will be irrigation ditches on both the Conejos River and the Rio Grande that don’t get any water this year. Those two rivers, which are the valley’s largest, have their headwaters in the San Juan Mountains, where snowpack is currently 83 percent of average.

Irrigators on the eastern side of the valley likely will face an even tougher summer. Snowpack from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, which feeds smaller creeks such as the Culebra, San Luis and Trinchera, is down to 31 percent of average…

There have been six dust storms that have blanketed the San Juan’s snowpack this year, Cotten said, but officials are still waiting to see how the rest of runoff proceeds.

The Colorado River District is kicking off a grant program for water resources projects

December 1, 2010

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From email from the Colorado River Water Conservation District (Martha Moore):

The Colorado River District is accepting grant applications for projects that protect, enhance or develop water resources within the 15-county area covered by the District. This includes all watersheds in north- and central- western Colorado, except the San Juan River basin.

Eligible projects must achieve one or more of the following:

- develop a new water supply

- improve an existing system

- improve instream water quality

- increase water use efficiency

- reduce sediment loading

- implement watershed management actions

- control tamarisk

- protect pre-1922 Colorado River Compact water rights

Past projects have included the construction of new water storage, the enlargement of existing water storage or diversion facilities, rehabilitation of non-functioning or restricted water resource structures and implementation of water efficiency measures and other watershed improvements. Such projects that utilize pre-1922 water rights will be given additional ranking priority over similar projects that do not. Each project will be ranked based upon its own merits in accordance with published ranking criteria.

Eligible applicants can receive up to a maximum of $150,000 ((or approximately 25% of the total project cost whichever is less, in the case of smaller projects this percentage may be slightly higher) for their project. The total grant pool for 2011 is $250,000. Application deadline is Jan. 31, 2011.

More Colorado River basin coverage here.

Gore Creek: Lower numbers for macroinvertebrates due to urbanization?

November 14, 2010

From the Vail Daily (Sarah Mausolf):

A recent study revealed certain bugs are disappearing in the East Vail stretch of the stream. The bugs present in low numbers — certain mayflies, stoneflies and caddisflies — are especially sensitive to the effects of urbanization, said David Rees, a bug expert processing the study data. And their absence is a sign that something is damaging this popular trout-fishing stream, which runs through a tourist town that prides itself on its natural beauty. “A large portion of our economy depends on this perception that this is a pristine area,” said Lin Brooks, assistant general manager for the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District.

Something has been causing a change in the stream’s macroinvertebrates, the tiny bugs that live in the rocks, Rees said. There are fewer types of bugs overall than one expects to see in a mountain stream, Rees said. While some bugs are dwindling, others are more plentiful then normal, he said. Midges and worms, which are less sensitive to environmental stress, are abundant. “Whenever we see this change in the composition, it’s an indication there’s stress,” he said…

John Woodling, a retired fish biologist familiar with the stream, agrees [highway] sand is a likely culprit. The sand settles over the rocks and fills up the space where the bugs live, he said. Although CDOT has been working to contain the sand, there is still plenty left on the hillside, he said…

Brooks said the water district plans to investigate other theories, too. One holds that fertilizers and lawn chemicals are hurting the creek…

Another theory claims road gunk that washes into the stream has been changing its makeup…

The state is coming up with new regulations for the nutrients wastewater treatment plants discharge, Brooks said. The water district volunteered to do the study to help explore the complex relationship between nutrients and river health, she said. Researchers collected samples at 18 locations along Gore Creek and the Eagle River in fall 2008 and spring 2009, Brooks said. They are still processing the results of samples they took in fall 2010, she said. Brooks expects The Colorado Water Quality Control Division to come out with new rules for nutrient discharge by June 2011. It could cost the water district $10 million to $20 million to remodel the local treatment plants to comply with the regulations, she said.

More Eagle River watershed coverage here and here.

Restoration: Volunteers needed for Eagle River watershed improvement projects

October 8, 2010

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From the Vail Daily:

This fall the Eagle River Watershed Council is back working in the Eagle River at Edwards. The purpose of the work is to restore the health of the river in this 1.6-mile stretch, making it run colder, faster and deeper during low flow — and creating a better habitat for fish. The council has several volunteer-based projects that will make a big impact on the river health.

The first project is to revegetate the newly reconfigured banks of the river, which had lost their vegetation to cattle grazing. Vegetation holds the banks, preventing erosion and shading the river, which makes the water cooler. As leaves and branches fall into the water, they create hiding places for fish and food for the bugs the fish eat.

The council needs teams to create “willow wattles” which will be staked in place on the river banks. Wattles are 16- to 19-inch bundles of willow branches, about 7 feet in length, stuffed with willow trimmings and wrapped with twine. The stakes will be made from dormant willows which will take root and produce willow plants next spring. The council needs lots of volunteers to create more than 700 wattles before the end of October. It also need volunteers to harvest 225 cottonwood branches, which will also be planted in the banks for the same project. If you would like to join a group to work down by the river, we have the following volunteer dates planned: Oct. 6, 9, 12, 17, 19, 20, 23, 26 and 27…

The council also has a done-in-a-day project on Friday, Oct. 8, with the U.S. Forest Service on Red Dirt Creek, a tributary to the Colorado River. The purpose of this project is to revegetate cattle grazing impact that has threatened a fragile population of Colorado cut throat trout that inhabit the degraded creek. Volunteers will plant willows and trees, relocate roses and create willow bundles. The Forest Service will pick up our volunteers at the Dotsero parking lot at 8 a.m. for a 45-minute drive up the Colorado, then west, to the project. Volunteers will leave the site at 3:30 p.m. There are five volunteer slots available.

Ever caught hundreds of fish in one day? The Watershed Council will be electrofishing on Gore Creek and the Eagle River with the Colorado Division of Wildlife today, Wednesday and Thursday. The council monitors impacts on water quality in Eagle County’s rivers, but also wants to know how the fish are dealing with these varied impacts. The fish collected are counted, weighed and measured, then returned to the stream. Volunteers wading in the river net fish and deliver them to the fish biologist’s holding tank. These positions are almost filled, but we can put you on a waiting list.

To become an Eagle River Watershed Council volunteer, contact the council’s office in Avon at 970-827-5406 or e-mail Learn more about the projects on the council’s website

More restoration coverage here.

Avon: 16th Annual Eagle River Cleanup is September 18

August 21, 2010

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From the Vail Daily:

This countywide event is organized by the Eagle River Watershed Council. Teams will head out to their pre-assigned stretch of river from 9 a.m. to noon to pick up litter along the banks of the Eagle River. New this year, Gore Creek and possibly Beaver Creek will be added, depending on participation levels. Including the tributaries, this brings the distance cleaned to nearly 70 miles of river. Following the cleanup, volunteers and their families are invited to the Wolcott Yacht Club from noon to 2 p.m. for a barbecue hosted by Beaver Creek Mountain Dining with music, entertainment and awards for the entire family.

Once again, Sue Mott will be the volunteer coordinator. Assemble your team and call her at 970-926-3956 or send an email to the Eagle River Watershed Council at for your river segment assignment. Volunteers meet on the river at assigned locations on the day of the event, so you must pre-register in order to know where you’re needed most.

More coverage from the Eagle Valley Enterprise. From the article:

Teams will head out to their pre-assigned stretch of river from 9 a.m. to noon to pick up litter along the banks of the river. For the first time this year, the clean up has officially added stretches of Gore Creek and possibly Beaver Creek, depending on participation levels. Including the tributaries, this brings the distance cleaned to nearly 70 miles of river.

Following the cleanup, volunteers and their families are invited to the Wolcott Yacht Club from noon to 2 p.m. for a lively BBQ hosted by Beaver Creek Mountain Dining with music, entertainment and awards for the entire family.

More Eagle River watershed coverage here and here.

Vail: Teva Games update

June 6, 2010

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Update: They canceled the whitewater events for the Teva Games today — too much runoff — according to a report from the Vail Daily.

From The Denver Post (Scott Willoughby):

The Vail Whitewater Park put the world’s top kayakers to the test as gushing snowmelt from the nearby Gore Mountain Range turned the river a muddy orange and carried trees, root balls and other debris into the competition wave. A low bridge ripped the paddle from one competitor’s hand during practice and others suffered scratches to the face and hands from wood collecting in the eddies. “The conditions were incredibly challenging,” head judge Clay Wright said of the contest. “I’ve never seen Gore Creek this high. I thought we were going to see a mobile home floating through any minute.”

Between dodging debris, Dustin Urban of Buena Vista landed a dizzying array of aerial “loops” and whirling “McNasty’s” to top the men’s competition with 590 points. Second place went to 16-year-old junior freestyle world champion Jason Craig of Reno, 90 points behind, followed by Casper Van Kalmouth of the Netherlands. “It was probably the craziest finals I’ve ever participated in,” Urban said. “Changing water levels are always a factor in kayaking, but not quite to the extreme they were today. The wave was always changing. We were all figuring it out as we went.”

Perennial women’s champion and reigning women’s freestyle world champion Emily Jackson of Tennessee went from last to first in her final ride of the three-women women’s finals, notching 260 points to top Australian Tanya Faux’s 180 points. Paddling for Buena Vista’s Colorado Kayak Supply, Haley Mills finished third with 140…

SUP sprint: Hawaiian 15-year-old Noa Ginella was the top paddle surfer among the races’ 40 starters, riding the rising river down the technical 3.5-mile course in 18 minutes, 15.53 seconds.

Kayak sprint: Mike Dawson of New Zealand blazed the Gore Creek downriver race course in 15:38.34 to win. Faux finished first among the women in 16:23.21, two days after claiming the steep creek title on Class V Homestake Creek.

More coverage from Chris Freud writing for the Vail Daily. From the article:

The traditional judging area on the kayaker’s right was underwater. There were numerous course holds for large logs entering the hole, including a entire tree stump. And softballs hit from Ford Park are probably in Grand Junction by now. “The river was amazingly high,” Teva kayaking queen Emily Jackson said. “I’ve been here — what — six, seven years now, and never have I seen water this insane.”

“My whole plan basically went out the window because it was a new wave,” Buena Vista’s Dustin Urban said. But when all was said in done, you can pump the entire Pacific Ocean into the Gore and it won’t matter. Jackson owns the Gore and got her sixth-straight women’s win with a clutch third and final ride, while Urban won his second men’s crown in three years…

With high water, the freestyle finals became a completely different ball game. With the help of the bladders, the creek was rolling at 1,400 cubic feet per square inch (CFS) at the beginning of the women’s competition. A mere 45 minutes later, it was at 1,580 CFS for the men.

More whitewater coverage here.

Vail: Teva Games this weekend

June 1, 2010

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From The Denver Post (Scott Willoughby):

Nine years later, the Teva Mountain Games taking place Friday through Sunday are very much on the map as the nation’s premier celebration of adventure sports and lifestyle. Yet, in many ways, they’re still Vail’s river games — and they’re still brand new. “We always want to be cutting edge from the perspective of trying new things, but we’re also one of the biggest events of its kind. So we sort of have a reputation to uphold as being on the forefront of the adventure sports lifestyle,” said Paul Abling of the Vail Valley Foundation, which took ownership of the former grassroots event late in 2008. “If we’re going to do something new at the Teva Mountain Games, we’re going to go big with it.” The latest addition to the crowded TMG program offers an evolutionary twist to the down-river racing of yore, as whitewater stand-up paddle surfing (SUP) makes its competitive debut on snowmelt-swollen Gore Creek on Saturday and Sunday. Two events dubbed “SUP Surf Sprint” and “SUP Surf Cross” will have paddlers racing downriver on surfboards designed to run rapids, even battling head-to-head in the “cross” format. “It’s going to steal the show, for sure,” said local competitor Ken Hoeve of Gypsum.

More whitewater coverage here.

Vail kayak park open for the season

May 20, 2010

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From the Vail Daily:

ade in Vail Village is ready for action. Although water levels have not yet reached the preferred 400 cubic feet per second, the town has activated the park to take advantage of rising water levels. Free demos at the park will begin Tuesday and continue Tuesday evenings from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. through June 22. The demos are run by Alpine Quest Sports and instructors will be on hand to demonstrate their skills and to show kayakers how to freestyle. The park has an adjustable whitewater wave that allows kayakers to experience maximum conditions during peak flows. The system will operate into late-June or as runoff allows…

The park’s computer controlled system is being programmed to read the water level each morning, and then automatic adjustments will be triggered to produce the best wave possible throughout the day. Kayakers are asked to leave feedback for the town about any additional adjustments that can be made to the park throughout the season. Feedback forms are available on site or by e-mail at

More whitewater coverage here.

Vail Valley: Waterwise Wednesday

October 26, 2009

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From the Vail Daily:

David Dittloff, regional outreach coordinator from the National Wildlife Federation, will speak about climate change and water resources in Colorado from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Wednesday in the Vail Town Council Chambers.

More Eagle River watershed coverage here.

Gore Creek: Restoration project wins award

May 8, 2009

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From the Vail Daily:

A Colorado Department of Transportation project that cleaned sediment and sand from the Black Gore Creek area on the west side of Vail Pass along I-70 in Vail, Colorado has received three recent honors.

The 2009 CDOT Environmental Process Award was received Feb. 24 in Denver. The next accolade, presented in Avon on March 20, was the Max Rollefson Award of Merit from the Colorado-Wyoming Chapter of the American Fisheries Society.

The third award, also presented in Avon on March 20, included a water fountain and a plaque of appreciation from the Black Gore Creek Steering Committee, comprised of local governmental representatives, nonprofit organizations, and regulatory agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

The project, conducted in the fall of 2008 in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service, cleaned out and reconstructed the “catchment basin” originally constructed in the 1970s when I-70 was built over Vail Pass. The reconstruction improved the condition of the “Basin of Last Resort,” as the catchment basin is known. About 2,400 truckloads of sediment were removed from the area. Project staff began noting fish in the water soon after flows were restored.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.


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