Aspen Journalism is compiling a data dashboard highlighting metrics of local public interest, updated at least every Tuesday. Check back for updates as we add more features.
Wastewater flow rates this October near past years’ levels
Wastewater flow rates reported by the Aspen Consolidated Sanitation District, located near the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport, provide a benchmark that correlates with the volume of people in town at a certain point in time.
According to ACSD data, the volume of wastewater coming through the treatment plant in October 2021 was close to past trends. The volume of wastewater in October 2021 was lower than in October 2020 and about the same as pre-pandemic seasons. The average daily flow in October 2021 of 1.083 million gallons was about 3.31% lower than in October 2020 and 0.4% higher than in October 2019.
Local streamflow levels remain below their minimum instream flows
The USGS gauge on the Roaring Fork near Aspen at Stillwater, located upstream of town and two major diversion ditches, measured streamflow at 20.5 cfs on Nov. 7, which represents 60.3% of average. A week before, the river was flowing at 18.5 cfs. On Nov. 7, 2020, the river ran at 18.2 cfs.
The ACES gauge, located near the Mill Street Bridge in central Aspen, measured the Roaring Fork at an average of 23.26 cfs on Nov. 7, up from 21.49 cfs on Oct. 31. The river ran at 21.14 cfs on that day last year.
Roaring Fork streamflow levels remain below the minimum instream flow of 32 cfs established by a 1976 water rights decree.
The Crystal River above Avalanche Creek, near Redstone, flowed at 84 cfs, or 109.1% of average on Nov. 7, which is down from 91 cfs on Oct. 31. That’s still nearly double the streamflow last year, when the river ran at 45 cfs on Nov. 7, 2020. The Crystal River at the CPW Fish Hatchery bridge ran at 102 cfs on Nov. 7. That puts the river near the minimum instream flow set at 100 cfs set by the 1979 water rights decree.
Swinging air temperature
Aspen experienced a wide temperature swing, from a high of 61°F on Oct. 29, which is 10.4 degrees above normal, to a high on Nov. 2 of 41°F, which is 7.5 degrees below normal. Minimum temperature was averaging at around 28°F, from 24 °F to 33°F.
Clean air in Aspen reported this first week of November
The air quality in Aspen was “good” this past week. The AQI index for ozone ranged from 26 on Nov. 2 and 3 to 46 on Nov. 7.
Lake Powell water level keeps dropping
Lake Powell could potentially fall below minimum power pool in 2022, which is an elevation of 3,490 feet, according to the U.S Bureau of Reclamation. “Should extremely dry hydrology continue into next year, Lake Powell could reach elevation 3,490 feet as early as July 2022,” the press release noted.
Lake Powell‘s storage kept getting lower this past week, reaching its lowest level recorded since it began filling in the 1960s and ’70s on Nov. 7, when the reservoir was 29.41% of full.
Last week, on Oct. 31, the reservoir was 29.52% of full. The reservoir’s capacity has fallen since last year, when on Nov. 7, 2020, the reservoir was 44.8% of full.
The surface elevation of Lake Powell is also in decline and hit a record low on Nov. 7, 2021, when the reservoir’s elevation dropped to 3,543.9 feet, or 156.2 feet from full pool. But the reservoir’s decline over the past month has slowed as it has lost four inches since Oct. 31, when the elevation was at 155.8 feet from full pool. Last year, on Nov. 7, the reservoir reached 3,590.83 feet or 109.17 feet from full pool.
- Colorado’s Division of Water Resources
- Bureau of Reclamation
- Aspen Consolidated Sanitation District
- Aspen Global Change Institute