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Fast Flows Mean Dangers, Environmental Benefits

Elizabeth Stewart-Severy
Aspen Public Radio


The Roaring Fork River is expected to reach peak flow this week. It could mean flooding and dangerous conditions, but it also provides environmental benefits.


The large snowpack in high elevations is finally melting and filling local reservoirs and rivers. Storage space in Twin Lakes Reservoir will reach capacity by July 4, so water that is now being diverted there will instead flow down the Roaring Fork. 

April Long, clean river program manager for the City of Aspen, said peak flows will be fast, around 1,400 cubic feet per second by Friday. That will likely mean some flooding of low-lying areas. The river has already topped its banks east of Aspen near Northstar Nature Preserve, which will benefit the ecosystem. The wetland acts like a sponge, soaking up water now to release it later in the year. 

More natural runoff also flushes out sediment and provides nourishment to plants and animals in the riparian zones along the banks. But officials warn that fast moving, cold water is hazardous and people should take extra care along river banks.


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.