Does mulch make a difference in water conservation?
Yes, mulch keeps the moisture in the soil and the heat from the sun out, conserving water and keeping plants in better health. Mulching, if done properly, saves 30% of water applied. Mulch with organic materials such as bark or wood chips to a depth of three (3) inches.

Why is it more important to conserve irrigation water than water used inside my home?
It is more important because nearly 50% of a typical community’s water is used for landscape irrigation each year, and most of the water used inside homes returns to our streams through wastewater treatment facilities.

Does a well-maintained irrigation system actually make a difference in the amount of water I use on my yard?
It is important to have a properly designed, maintained, and managed irrigation system because as much as 40 to 50 percent of the landscape irrigation water could be wasted if it isn’t applied efficiently.

Doesn’t the excess water from over-irrigation of landscapes return to the streams?
Some of the excess water will return to the stream. However, it is not good for the streams, because the water could contain phosphorus and chemicals from fertilizers placed on the landscaping.

How can I determine if my irrigation system needs maintenance?
Irrigation systems need monthly maintenance checks. Sprinkler heads get broken, out of adjustment or tilted, nozzles get worn, and water pressure changes. Just like with your car, maintenance checks will often reveal problems with your system, which, if corrected, will result in water savings and healthier plants.

How often should I change my irrigation clocks?
Monthly. The water requirement of plants can change greatly in a 30-day period. In addition, plants should be observed for signs of water stress, which is a valuable tool in determining how much to water without causing long-term harm to your plants. Make a point to change your clock at least once a month, recording the settings for your use in the future.

Set your irrigation runtimes for the July water requirement. Then use your “water budget” feature to quickly and easily set irrigation times for each month. Use the following table as a guideline, keeping in mind that these figures are based on average historical water use, and may need to be increased or decreased with weather variations.

Table 2: Guidelines for Water Budget Feature on Irrigation Controller


Month Water Use for Vail, Minturn, Eagle-Vail Water Use for Avon, Beaver Creek, Arrowhead, Edwards, and Cordillera
April 28 percent 31 percent
May 50 percent 56 percent
June 86 percent 81 percent
July 100 percent 100 percent
August 86 percent 94 percent
September 57 percent 50 percent
October 28 percent 25 percent


I’m putting in new landscaping. How can I be sure it will receive enough water?
You should apply for a Special Irrigation Permit, which will allow your plants to get the extra water needed during establishment. The Special Irrigation Permit allows you to irrigate for 14 continuous days (excluding Mondays) for newly-planted trees, shrubs, gardens, and newly-sodded lawns. The permit allows you to irrigate for 28 continuous days (excluding Mondays) for newly-seeded lawns. Irrigation should not be scheduled between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on any day, and no watering may occur on Mondays. To apply for a special irrigaiton permit, call Customer Service at 970-476-7480.

Why do we have a tiered rate structure?
The tiered rate structure was adopted to encourage wise water use. Higher usage results in higher water costs. Tier 1 represents an appropriate amount of water needed for a customer account each month; it reflects efficient indoor use and for some accounts, covers some outdoor water use. Tier 2 represents efficient outdoor water use for landscaping during the irrigation season, generally late May through mid-September. Tier 3 represents excessive water use, while Tiers 4 and 5 reflect unsustainable water use. If you are using water in tier 3 or above, please speak with customer service for tips on how to lower your usage.

How will the tiered rates affect me?
If you are already using water wisely and landscaping appropriately for our climate, you may see very little change in your service charge bill. Contact the Customer Service Department to discuss the effect tiered rates will have on your specific account at or 970-476-7480.

Why is Tier One only 6,000 gallons?
Statistics show that an average family of four uses less than 6,000 gallons of water per month for in-home uses.

Our Condominium Association has a central sprinkler system with both odd and even addresses. Which schedule should we use?
You should apply for a Special Permit Variance with customer service, which will give you the right to water on a specific schedule regardless of the odd and even numbering schedule; for example, you would be able to irrigate your entire grounds on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday or on Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday. Make sure you receive your Special Permit Variance before changing your schedule. Remember that even with a Special Permit Variance you may not irrigate on Monday.

How much water do I use every day?
Inside the House: The average 5-minute shower uses 15 to 25 gallons. The average family of four uses approximately 65 gallons of water per person per day, for a total of 7,900 monthly gallons or approximately 95,000 gallons per year.

Outside the House: An average sprinkler zone will use water at a rate of ten gallons per minute. So, if the sprinkler zone is on for 30 minutes, you would be using about 300 gallons per half hour. If this were done twice a week, 600 gallons of water per week would be used, or approximately 2,400 gallons per month. If you have an automatic sprinkler system, the amount of water used in each zone can be calculated by the person who installs your sprinkler system, or you can measure how much water is used in each zone by reading the water meter before and after each zone is run. Most local water meters measure water used in gallons.

It is NOT best to water for longer periods and less frequently. Try to water two to three times per week. Several short repeated watering cycles may be necessary for non-porous clay soil, which causes runoff when watered for extensive periods of time. Local lawn and garden professionals are excellent sources for individual landscape concerns.

Where can I find more information?
Contact Customer Service, 970-476-7480, or use the many Xeriscape™ and water conservation references available at the Avon or Vail Public Libraries.

Backflow Prevention and Cross-Connection Control

What is backflow?

“Backflow” refers to the reverse flow of water, fluid, or gas caused by back pressure or back siphonage.

What is cross-connection?

A cross-connection is any point in a water distribution system where chemical, biological, or radiological contaminates may come into contact with potable water. During a backflow event, uncontrolled cross-connections run the risk of allowing contaminates to be drawn or pushed back into the potable water supply. Some examples of cross-connections include:

  • Fire suppression systems
  • Boilers
  • Pumps
  • Medical facilities
  • Irrigation systems

Why does Eagle River Water & Sanitation District have this program?

Backflow and Cross-Connection Control is regulated by the state of Colorado through Regulation 11.39 of its Primary Drinking Water Regulations. As a public water provider, Eagle River Water & Sanitation District implements the state’s regulations by requiring customers to comply with the regulations on their properties. The goal of the regulations and the district’s requirements is to protect public health and safety by ensuring that contaminants from customer properties do not enter the public water system.

What do the Colorado Primary Drinking Water Regulations and Eagle River Water & Sanitation District’s Rules and Regulations require of me?

Customers must meet the requirements of Regulation 11 and the district’s Backflow Prevention and Cross-Connection Control Program. Here’s where we can help you. We will notify you of the need to have a survey conducted on your property to determine if you have, or should have, any regulated cross-connection control devices on your property. If you need a device(s), installed to comply with the regulations, we will notify you. Once you have the proper device(s) installed, we will notify you regularly when you need to have it tested to confirm it is working properly. You will be required to contract with a certified backflow tester to conduct the test and submit results to the district. If the test indicates that the device is not working properly (failed), you will need to contract to have the device fixed and retested. All requirements have a specified time period within which you must comply.

What is a Cross-Connection and Backflow Protection Survey?

Suppliers must survey all connections to the public water system to determine if the connection is a cross connection. A survey may consist of a phone or mailed questionnaire and/or a physical inspection to assess whether there is the potential for cross-connection and/or backflow on your property. If no potential is found, there is no further action required of you until the next required survey.

If a survey determines that I have, or need to install, a regulated device, what do I need to do next?

The district will notify you by letter of next steps and specific requirements.

How long do I have to comply?

The letter you receive from the district will provide you with the time frame within which you must comply with the requirements.

What will happen if my property does not comply by the deadline set by the state of Colorado and Eagle River Water & Sanitation District?

If your property is not in compliance with the district’s requirements by the dates communicated in the notification letter, you will be assessed a fine of $500/month. If any noncompliance on your property is anticipated to result in noncompliance with state regulations, your water service will be temporarily discontinued until the property is brought into compliance, in addition to the $500/month fine. Additional fees may be applied to cover district staff time due to noncompliance, such as property visits for turn-on and turn-off of service.

Who pays for the services and costs to comply with the regulations?

Surveys are conducted by district staff and customers are not charged for this service. Initial and yearly testing and inspection of regulated backflow devices, the cost of the devices, and installation, maintenance, repair, or replacement of the devices is the responsibility of the customer.

How do I find a certified backflow device tester?

Find a list of testers in our Certified Backflow Testing Company Directory.

Who can I contact if I have questions about this program or the requirements I need to meet?

Please email backflow staff at with questions or to schedule a survey. You may also call 970-477-5451 and asked to be connected to a backflow specialist.


What times am I allowed to water on my irrigation days?
An irrigation day is a calendar day from 12:01 a.m. (just after midnight) to 8a.m. and again from 6 p.m. to 12 p.m. (midnight). Do not begin irrigation in the evening of one day and continue overnight to the following morning.

What days may I water?
Addresses ending in ODD numbers may irrigate on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Addresses ending in EVEN numbers may irrigate on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. To deviate from this schedule, you must apply for and receive a variance to the water use regulations.

Why is watering prohibited at certain times of day?
Irrigation is prohibited between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. because this time of day is generally the warmest and windiest part of the day so irrigating during this time generates the highest loss of water to evaporation.

Will I be fined for watering between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.?
Under our current regulations, if you irrigate between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., you will first receive a warning letter. Fines will begin with the second violation.

Why can’t I irrigate on Monday?
No irrigation is allowed on Mondays because our water distribution system needs one day each week to fully recover from the high summer demand due to irrigation use.

Are there any conditions under which I should not water?
Avoid irrigation when it is windy, raining, or in the heat of the day.

How often does my lawn need watering?
Most of the time, lawns will thrive on irrigation every three to five days—irrigation on assigned days should be sufficient.

How much water does my lawn need?
A yard with Kentucky bluegrass needs a varying amount of water depending upon the time of year. To conserve water, it is important to get into the habit of changing your irrigation practices with the season. The historical use of water by turfgrass in inches per month for the Vail Valley is as follows:

Table 1: Estimated Water Requirements for Kentucky Bluegrass in Eagle County


Month Water Use for Vail, Minturn, Eagle-Vail Water Use for Avon, Beaver Creek, Arrowhead, Edwards, and Cordillera
April 1.2 inches 1.4 inches
May 2.0 inches 2.6 inches
June 3.5 inches 3.8 inches
July 4.1 inches 4.6 inches
August 3.5 inches 4.4 inches
September 2.3 inches 2.3 inches
October 1.2 inches 1.2 inches


These values are the total water needs of Kentucky bluegrass based on historical weather records. Weather can be cooler or warmer than normal, resulting in lower or higher than normal water use. Use the numbers as a starting point and observe your turfgrass for signs of drought stress, which will not cause long-term damage. Look for footprints that don’t spring back quickly or a grayish color and then nudge the irrigation time up 10. If you have a “water budget” feature on your controller, you can easily change runtimes by increasing or decreasing the percent figure under that feature.

Will my brown grass recover?
If your grass is Kentucky bluegrass, it could go dormant for as long as 18 months and still recover. Some thinning may be evident, especially if the bluegrass was subjected to foot traffic during dormancy.

Should I plant Buffalo Grass or tall fescue rather than Bluegrass?
Buffalo Grass is a drought-resistant grass and needs less than an inch of water per week, but it is a warm season grass, which means it is only green during consistently hot weather and does not survive well at elevations above 6,500 feet.

Tall fescue is a cool season grass that uses about 10 percent less water overall than bluegrass. It can be irrigated much less frequently than other cool season turf because it has a much deeper root system. However, the root system only goes as deep as the soil has been prepared. It also does not survive well at elevations above 6,500 feet.

Do my flowers need the same amount of water as my lawn?
This depends upon the water needs of the flowers. Flowerbeds should be on a separate watering schedule from the lawn, especially if you have Xeriscaped™ your yard.

How should I take care of my trees?
Irrigate your trees with a soaker hose or a drip system on newly-transplanted trees for the first three years. Remove the drip system after three years and provide deep irrigation only three to four times per year thereafter. During the winter, irrigate in the absence of snow cover for two or more weeks, in the morning of a day when the temperature will be above freezing. The amount of water and the frequency of irrigation depend on the species of trees.


Is the water from my private well safe to drink?

There is no single generic test that analyzes every possible contaminant of concern in drinking water. Each contaminant must be evaluated individually. Well owners should be aware that the EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Act does not regulate private wells. For information on issues of concern to private well owners, see the CDPHE Drinking Water from Household Wells pamphlet.

The Eagle River Water & Sanitation District Laboratory is certified to provide bacteriological testing for microorganisms in drinking water (Total Coliform and E. Coli). For more information on private wells, please see the private well information on Colorado Department of Public Health & the Environment website.

How often should I have the water from my private well tested for bacteria?

The Environmental Protection Agency recommends that well owners have their water tested for Total Coliform on an annual basis.

The bacteriological test for my well water came back positive for Total Coliform and/or E.Coli. What does this mean?

Total Coliform is a class of bacteria present throughout the environment, such as in the soil, and may or may not include E.Coli. E.Coli is a coliform bacteria that comes from human and animal fecal matter. The presence of Total Coliform and/or E.Coli in well water may indicate contamination of the water source. If there is contamination, it may either be in the ground water source itself, or it may be from the well casing or plumbing.


I smell odors that I think might be from the wastewater treatment facility. Who should I contact?

Call the Eagle River Water & Sanitation District at 970-476-7480. An employee will gather information from you regarding the odor. It is best if the District is aware of the odors immediately in order to evaluate the possible problems.

I have sewage odors in my place of business (or residence). What should I do?

Add water to any drains that may be in your business or residence to fill the traps. Dry traps will allow sewage odors to escape. Check for any blockages on the vents from your restrooms. Often birds or rodents will build nests over top of them. If the problem persists, contact. 970-476-7480.

Can I tour one of the District’s wastewater plants?

Yes. If you are interested in scheduling a tour, please contact Communications and Public Affairs at .

Water Quality & Treatment

How do I set up my water softener?

Water hardness can fluctuate and is dependant upon the raw water source. A typical setting for year-round operation would be 9 grains per gallon.

Where does my water come from?

Customers of the Eagle River Water & Sanitation District’s system primarily receive their water from the alluvial aquifer in the Vail basin.

Customers of the Upper Eagle Regional Water Authority’s system primarily receive their water from the Eagle River, however, at times this water will be blended with groundwater supplies.

Why does my water smell like chlorine/chemicals?

All drinking water is treated with chlorine prior to distribution for disinfection purposes . If you have questions or concerns please contact a Water Operator at the Avon Drinking Water Facility at 970-477-5401.

How does District/Authority water compare to bottled water?

Drinking water standards for bottled water are administered by the Federal Drug Administration and are less stringent.

All drinking water supplied by Public Water Systems in the United States is required, under the Safe Drinking Water Act, to meet or exceed Federal drinking water standards. This program is enforced by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).

My water pressure is low, what do I do?

Contact the Customer Service Department at (970) 477-5451.

Who should I contact with other questions about my drinking water?

Please feel free to contact a water operator at the Avon Drinking Water Facility with general water questions at 970-477-5401.