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Plan aims to conserve water across Roaring Fork Valley

Facebook/Roaring Fork Conservancy

It’s hard to think of conserving water when rivers and streams are swollen with spring runoff...but, city of Aspen officials are mulling how to prepare for a drier future. 

Aspen is one of five communities involved in a regional water conservation effort. Organizers say the efficiency plan is the first of its kind in the state to encompass an entire watershed. Mark Fuller is executive director of the Ruedi Water and Power Authority.

"The idea is to reduce future municipal demands and it’s part of an overall watershed effort to increase streamflows," he says.

He told Aspen City Council Monday the plan examines domestic and municipal water use only, which accounts for just 3 percent of the watershed’s water use. Agriculture is the biggest user.

The plan lays out ways to conserve water...through public education, water reuse and recycling, possible regulations for landscaping and providing incentives for businesses like hotels to use less. It comes at the right time, says Fuller, while the state is examining ways to meet growing demands for the resource.

"In light of what we anticipate will be more pressure from the Front Range to divert water, we think it’s an essential element of a strategy to make our water supplies last."

Lee Ledesma is with the City’s Utilities Department.

"Aspen has been a leader in water efficiency for decades, so this isn’t something new for us," she says.

Since the 1970s, Aspen has been implementing water conservation measures. While the population has risen, the water usage has gone down. Still, more work needs to be done to reduce outdoor water use.

Council will get a second look at the regional plan next month when it comes back  for adoption. The other communities involved include Snowmass Village, Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs.