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Frisco denies water request

FRISCO – When Forest Service officials proposed hooking the peninsula campgrounds up to Frisco’s water system, it was before they realized the campgrounds had a potential water problem. With current drought concerns, however, Frisco officials said they can’t grant the request at this time.

When Frisco built its new water tank on the peninsula last summer, the new water line crossed over an abandoned Forest Service water line.

“So I recognized an opportunity to potentially tie in to the municipal water system,” said Howard Scott, recreation technician for the White River National Forest Dillon Ranger District.



Connecting the peninsula’s Peak One and Pine Cove campgrounds to Frisco’s municipal water system would lessen the workload for the Forest Service concessionaire, Thousand Trails Management Services Inc., by eliminating the need to pump and treat water from the well, Scott said.

Forest Service officials also are hoping to improve the amenities at the Heaton Bay campground off the Dam Road – including flush toilets, showers and RV hookups – as a part of a capital improvement project for the campgrounds in the Dillon Ranger District.



The need for municipal water became more apparent late last summer, however, when the well that supplies water to the two peninsula campgrounds went dry. The Forest Service campgrounds on Swan Mountain already had gone dry early that summer.

Thousand Trails employees solved the problem temporarily by hauling water to the dry campgrounds from Heaton Bay campground, which is connected to the municipal water system. But Scott is concerned about the coming camping season.

“We’re not optimistic there’s going to be water in that well this spring unless Dillon Reservoir is replenished,” Scott said, which is unlikely according to water experts.

As the state enters another year of drought, however, Frisco officials also are concerned.

At their Tuesday worksession, council members discussed updating the town’s water ordinance, complete with mandatory conservation measures and penalties for those who don’t comply.

“(Frisco is) in good shape now, but crystal ball-wise, I can’t say,” said Dave Koop, water system foreman with Frisco Public Works.

While Frisco provides water to the Heaton Bay campground already, that shouldn’t obligate the town to serve requests for water to locations outside the city limits such as the peninsula campgrounds, said Frisco Town Manager Alan Briley.

And most council members agreed – some focusing on the request for showers and flush toilets at Heaton Bay.

“If (campers) want to shower, they should go to a hotel,” said Councilmember David Amli.

“It’s not a motel,” said Councilmember Tom Connolly. “Bring your bottled water and a sun shower.”

Councilmember Bernie Zurbriggen said he would like to grant the Forest Service request – with some restrictions to curtail water use. Councilmembers Rick Amico and Jon Zdechlik were not present Tuesday.

“I’m kind of neutral,” Briley said. “I see we need to be good neighbors and … we need to serve our customers first.”

Frisco officials agreed they have an obligation to serve town customers first, and – because no one knows whether this summer will bring ample water – they are leaning toward being protective of and conservative with the town’s water supply.

In other words, Frisco can’t agree to the Forest Service proposal at this time.

Scott acknowledges the Forest Service proposal likely didn’t come at the best time, as it coincides with drought concerns. Without the option of connecting the peninsula campgrounds with Frisco’s water system, he will have to come up with alternate solutions should the campgrounds run out of water again.

“There’s a number of ways they could provide drinking water out there,” Scott said.

The concessionaires could sell bottled water, guests could be required to provide their own drinking water, or the campground concessionaire could haul water to the campgrounds, he said.

“We’ve got a few months here yet to figure that out, but we do need to find a viable solution because people expect water when they go camping,” he said, adding that the lack of water could keep some campers away.

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Lu Snyder can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 203, or lsnyder@summitdaily.com


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