Pitkin County reported zero new cases Friday while dropping its requirement for a visitors to get a negative COVID test.
Consultants also are working on finding a location to which to move Aspen’s conditional water-storage rights and determining whether the city needs storage at all.
The issue is twofold: With climate change, there is not enough water for the upper basin to develop new projects without the risk of a compact call; and if the past three decades are any indication, the upper basin is not on track to use more water in the future anyway.
The number of COVID-19 tests given in Pitkin County more than tripled — from an average of 34 tests per day on Nov. 1 to 111 tests per day on Dec. 1, and then kept increasing. But on Jan. 21, the state announced that Curative tests could not be used for asymptomatic testing.
Supporters of the designation on the Crystal want two main restrictions aimed at protecting the free-flowing nature of the river: no dams on the main stem and no diversions out of the basin. “If we don’t do something, there is a very real possibility of further water development in the Crystal River Valley,” Pitkin County Attorney John Ely told the Crystal River Caucus.
The state is concerned that ponds without water rights are using water through evaporation and harming senior water rights holders. In the over-appropriated Arkansas basin, one official believes that tens of thousands of acre feet could eventually be saved through stronger pond management.
A nearly $1 million project is “trying to make a natural riffle” where in the past boaters had to navigate over falls created by a weir channeling water to a midvalley diversion ditch. Heavy equipment in and around the river near Willits Lane will see “grade control structures” and other enhancements create a safer passage that could open up that section of water to more recreational use.
But while many have heralded the Windy Gap Firming Project as the beginning of a new era of cooperation in water management, not everyone agrees that mitigating environmental damage to the river is enough.
More monitoring may be recommended; “We definitely need to dig deeper,” said one Pitkin County official
Denver Water may offer lessons useful to water managers, who will be dealing with impacts from the East Troublesome Fire for years, perhaps decades.