Pitkin County and the Colorado Water Conservation Board are finding it’s not easy to leave water in two local rivers for environmental purposes.
Pitkin County has spent $50,000 since 2010 to prevent a Front Range city from expanding a water right it owns to divert 2,600 acre-feet of water a year from four creeks high in the Fryingpan River basin.
City of Aspen water officials are now working to update the city’s comprehensive water management plan and the process could inform future decisions about potential new dams, reservoirs and hydro power plants.
The $511,000 contract is seen by city officials as a way to help protect the city’s future diversion and storage projects from being called out by downstream water owners.
Wild and Scenic status, which ultimately requires an act of Congress to obtain, prevents a federal agency from approving, or funding, a new dam or reservoir on a Wild and Scenic-designated river.
Trees on a dam are considered a hazard as their roots can cause the dam to leak and high winds could blow the trees over, leaving a big hole where the roots were.
The upper ends of both Castle and Maroon creek valleys would be the sites of two new city of Aspen water storage reservoirs and dams, under 47-year-old conditional water rights that the city has continued to keep alive.
Was the city manipulating a federal process in the name of public safety?
A state dam safety engineer is requiring the city of Aspen to cut down 25 trees on the Thomas Reservoir dam and said the trees may already have caused “dam safety problems.”
The listing of the Crystal River by American Rivers as one of the top-10 most endangered rivers in America this year is designed to influence the boards of two regional water districts