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The environment desk at Aspen Public Radio covers issues in the Roaring Fork Valley and throughout the state of Colorado including water use and quality, impact of recreation, population growth and oil and gas development. APR’s Environment Reporter is Elizabeth Stewart-Severy.

City to keep water rights despite public input

Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

City of Aspen staff is directing council to keep water rights for reservoirs on Castle and Maroon Creeks. As Elizabeth Stewart-Severy reports, this goes against public sentiment.

In a period of two weeks, the city received nearly 60 comments, which Aspen Public Radio obtained through an open records request.

These emails unanimously encouraged the city to abandon the storage rights, citing fears of future dams in Aspen’s two iconic valleys. The national advocacy group American Rivers joined local non-profits Roaring Fork Conservancy, Wilderness Workshop, and others in urging the city to instead focus on conservation efforts.

Aspen has owned conditional storage rights since 1971. In state water court this October, the city needs to show that it can and will use them.

Credit Courtesy of Wilderness Workshop

In a memo to Aspen City Council, utilities and environmental initiatives director, Dave Hornbacher, advised keeping the rights, citing potential impacts of climate change. Hornbacher says the city will investigate alternatives to these reservoirs.

Aspen native Elizabeth Stewart-Severy is excited to be making a return to both the Red Brick, where she attended kindergarten, and the field of journalism. She has spent her entire life playing in the mountains and rivers around Aspen, and is thrilled to be reporting about all things environmental in this special place. She attended the University of Colorado with a Boettcher Scholarship, and graduated as the top student from the School of Journalism in 2006. Her lifelong love of hockey lead to a stint working for the Colorado Avalanche, and she still plays in local leagues and coaches the Aspen Junior Hockey U-19 girls.
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