Brent Gardner-Smith

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Water efficiency plan might mean more water for rivers

Consultants managed by the Ruedi Water and Power Authority have begun work on a regional water efficiency plan that could save 347 acre-feet of water a year and result in more water flowing through local rivers. “Part of the regional goal is to see if municipal water conservation might help us to put some more water into these reaches of streams that are getting de-watered at certain times of the year,” said Peter Mayer, an engineer with Water Demand Management in Boulder, one of two consultants on the project. The regional plan will be based on new or updated efficiency plans created with the five major water providers in the watershed: the cities of Aspen and Glenwood Springs; the towns of Basalt and Carbondale; and the Snowmass Water and Sanitation District in Snowmass Village. The efficiency plan is being funded with a $93,500 grant from the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB), $31,000 from the five water utilities, and $30,000 in in-kind contributions from the water providers, the Roaring Fork Conservancy, and the Community Office for Resource Efficiency. A CWCB memo notes that “the plan is estimated to save 347 acre-feet annually once implemented” and that the effort could “improve watershed health.”

Stretches of the Roaring Fork River through Aspen, and the Crystal River above Carbondale, regularly flow at levels below those found necessary by CWCB “to protect the environment to a reasonable degree.”

Mark Fuller, the executive director of the Ruedi Water and Power Authority, who is managing the project, said during a recent presentation on the plan that “water conservation will ultimately have a beneficial effect on the availability of water for us, and the availability of water for stream flow.”

Fuller also said the regional efficiency study would give the Roaring Fork Valley some moral high ground in the broader debate of potential new water diversions under the Continental Divide. Continue Reading →

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