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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.

Staff to recommend option for reservoirs

Courtesy of Wilderness Workshop

After the city took a rare step in seeking public input, staff is rejecting the overwhelming suggestion to abandon the rights. David Hornbacher, who is heading up the project for the city, wrote in a memo to city council that staff recommends keeping those rights.

Aspen Public Radio’s Elizabeth Stewart-Severy discussed this decision with Brent Gardner-Smith, who covers water issues across Colorado and the west for the local nonprofit Aspen Journalism. Earlier this summer, Gardner-Smith reported on the City of Aspen’s conditional water rights to build reservoirs on Castle and Maroon creeks.

“I certainly hope that the Aspen City Council didn’t need emails from citizens to understand that building a 15-story tall dam within view of Maroon Bells in one of the most cherished places on the planet, might be offensive to some citizens,” Gardner-Smith said.

Credit Wilderness Workshop
Wilderness Workshop

  Hornbacher cited uncertainty about climate change as a key factor in his recommendation, but Gardner-Smith pointed out that the city has not yet conducted all the necessary research.

“If you really think you need two reservoirs to meet the demand for water in Aspen, shouldn’t you do a really good analysis of where that storage should go and if there’s better locations than a spot just below the confluence of East and West Maroon Creeks?” Gardner-Smith said.

City staff will present its recommendation to keep those water rights during a meeting today that begins at 4 p.m.


An extended interview with Brent Gardner-Smith

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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