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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.

Council votes to keep rights for reservoirs

Maroon-Creek-proposed-reservoir.jpg
Courtesy of Wilderness Workshop

Aspen City Council voted unanimously last night to keep the water rights to build reservoirs on Maroon and Castle creeks. The vote comes despite public opposition.

The environmental group Wilderness Workshop led a public tour of the proposed reservoir sites last Saturday. On Maroon Creek, a dam would be built near the confluence of East and West Maroon Creeks, flooding the area known as the “wedding meadow.”

Local Gretchen Straub stood in the meadow, looking at the expanse of wilderness surrounded by high peaks.

 

"It baffles me that this would even be considered," Straub said.

Last night, city council heard about 10 comments in support of abandoning the water rights, but expressed concern about a long-term water supply for Aspen. Council members joined concerned citizens in describing a need for further studies of future water demands.  

“Without knowing more about viable alternatives, it simply would not be prudent water management planning on our part to give these water rights up tonight,” said Mayor Steve Skadron.

Council members said they realize that building dams in these locations is not a great alternative, but it is an option that needs to remain open.

“I have no more interest in building dams on Castle and Maroon Creeks than anybody else in this room or anyone else in this community,” Art Daily said.

Council directed staff to file an application in state water court to keep the conditional rights. Several organizations, including the U.S. Forest Service, Pitkin County Healthy Rivers and Streams, and American Rivers, have said they will file objections in state water court.

Brent Gardner-Smith with Aspen Journalism contributed to this report.  

 

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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