Mountain News: 

Compiled By Allan Best

Water scarcity may limit building at Winter Park

WINTER PARK, Colo. — Two years ago, during the worst drought in several centuries, there were some doubts whether toilets at the Winter Park ski area would have enough water for flushing.

That proved not to be the case, but Winter Park continues to be in a water pickle. Denver and other Front Range municipalities, which already take 65 percent of the water in the Fraser River Valley, want to take 83 percent. Meanwhile, the second-home boom is just starting to hit. Will there be enough for all?

Probably not, which is why the Winter Park Town Council is now looking at whether it needs to prioritize the development it allows. One of the decisions, Mayor Nick Teverbaugh told the Winter Park Manifest, is to either let everyone who wants to develop come in on a first-come, first-serve basis, or to "set value judgments that are in the best public interests."

While one council member says the town may need to learn to say no, another approach is that developers will want to buy water taps as soon as they get development authorized.

Water available for 20 more years of growth

EAGLE VALLEY, Colo. — The boom-boom can continue for another 20 years, say water officials in an area called the Vail Valley, a strip of about 25 miles of development located along I-70.

"For the growth we’ve projected the water rights have already been dedicated or cash-in-lieu has been paid to acquire additional water rights," said Becky Bultemeier, finance manager of the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District.

And what a lot of growth that will be, says a new report broken down by the Vail Daily. The newspaper says that Vail itself, which was considered to be nigh on to build-out, now expects to increase in size by 11 percent during the next six years. Down-valley, in the Avon, Edwards, and Cordillera areas, water use could grow by about 40 percent, based on existing zoning and other expectations.

One key assumption is that less water per capita will be used in the future. Water use has been dropping rapidly in the last several years. Water use four summers ago was 223 gallons a day for what is called a single-family equivalent. This year, an uncommonly cool year, it had dropped to 207 gallons.

As are most headwater counties, Vail and its suburbs is looking into additional reservoir storage. No serious thought has been given publicly to not attempting to develop water sources for new population growth.

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