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Red Cliff out of water through the weekend

Friday, March 2, 2012 posted by PSI
Red Cliff out of water through the weekend – Frozen main line may be just the start of winter water trouble – Article in the Vail Daily Friday, Feb 10, 2012

Scott N. Miller
Vail, CO Colorado
RED CLIFF, Colorado — A frozen water main will probably keep Red Cliff residents without running water through the weekend.Crews from the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District — which operates and maintains the water system under contract to the town, which owns the system — continue to work to clear a frozen section in the town’s primary water main between the water tank and where the main splits to go into town.

Water lines in Red Cliff are fairly shallow, because there’s little soil over solid bedrock in town. The freeze-up is due to those shallow lines, combined with light snowpack this winter that’s provided inadequate insulation for the lines.

Diane Johnson of the water district said crews have been working on the problem for several days, but the freeze-up knocked out the town’s entire water supply about Feb. 8. District crews have been working just about non-stop since then.

Since the entire town lost service, the water district has hauled a pair of 500-gallon water tanks to Red Cliff. Those tanks had to be filled in Avon and hauled over Battle Mountain, since there wasn’t enough pressure in the town’s water tank to fill them.

While Johnson said she wasn’t sure how long thawing the main line — which runs nearly a mile from town up the Shrine Pass road — might take, she said other problems could crop up after that line is running again. The problem, Johnson said, is that no one knows how much water is in the lines past the frozen section. That might mean other lines in town are frozen. There’s no way to know until the main line flows again.

There was some good news Friday, when crews discovered that there’s water flowing in the town’s lines, just not enough to come out anyone’s faucet. That might reduce the chances of other lines being frozen, too.

“Right now virtually the entire organization is working on this,” Johnson said. “I can’t emphasize enough how much effort is going into it.”

Five facts
• Trucked-in water is available at the town’s fire station and at the town offices. Gallon jugs are available at the town offices; you need to bring your own container to the fire station.
• Portable toilets have been brought into town, but the town’s wastewater system is still working. Residents can flush, then re-fill their toilet tanks from a jug, or just pour water into the bowl until the toilet drains. If you can get water out of the river, that water can be used for toilet-flushing. Officials urge residents to use “potable” water for drinking, and “non-potable” water for use in toilets.
• Showers are available at the Avon Recreation Center. The Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy in Minturn — the old Minturn Middle School — will have showers available until from 8-10 a.m. and 2-4 p.m. today and Sunday.
• The Eagle River Fire Protection District can get to river water in case there’s a fire in town.
• For more information, go to the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District’s website:

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or

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