About 47,000 acre-feet of water has been diverted each year of the last decade off the top of the Roaring Fork River drainage and sent through Tunnel No. 1 under Independence Mountain.
The tunnel is a good indicator of the runoff levels in the upper Roaring Fork River drainage, and a true indicator of how much water is being sent to Twin Lakes Reservoir, Colorado Springs, Aurora, Pueblo, Pueblo West and fields north of the Arkansas River in Crowley and Antero counties.
A group of citizens opposing the city of Aspen’s proposed hydro power plant has threatened to file a lawsuit, claiming the city effectively abandoned its water rights for power generation when it closed the original Castle Creek hydro plant in 1958.
The decision takes away the long-simmering prospect, however thin, that two Ruedi-sized dams would be built on the Crystal River, including the 129,00-acre-feet Osgood Reservoir, which would have put Redstone underwater.
If the Colorado River District dammed the Crystal River, would anyone want to buy the water stored behind the dams? Probably so, according to Kerry Sundeen of Grand River Consulting, with large landowners along the Crystal River seeking irrigation water perhaps the strongest potential market.
An updated look at the conditional water rights associated with the West Divide Project was provided at a meeting on Wednesday, March 16, 2011.
Pitkin County Attorney John Ely was asked to leave a closed-door session on Wednesday, March 16, so two water district boards could talk about potential dams on the Crystal River without Pitkin County, which sits on one of the boards, in the room.
A dam once envisioned on the upper Crystal River would drown the town of Redstone under an artificial lake bigger than Ruedi Reservoir, submerging the Redstone Castle and putting the town’s historic coke ovens under water.
To understand the prospect of, and the evolving rationale for, the Osgood and Placita Reservoirs, it is helpful to imagine driving from Marble to DeBeque. Every day, water from the Crystal River makes this same journey.
“Local interests in the Roaring Fork Watershed should … expect Front Range water providers to eventually attempt to firm up undeveloped water rights and excess diversion capacity associated with the Fry-Ark Project, Busk-Ivanhoe System, and Twin Lakes System.”