Supply and demand equation
This week at Aspen Journalism, we published stories touching on both the supply of and demand for our most precious resource.
Freelance contributor Natalie Keltner-McNeil went in-depth for our Connie Harvey Environment Desk about the recent expansion of the local network of soil moisture monitoring stations scattered throughout the Roaring Fork watershed. With the addition of a high-tech monitor near the tree line in the Castle Creek Valley, the network of iRON stations managed by the Aspen Global Change Institute now provides soil-moisture data for all major elevations and ecosystems present in the Roaring Fork Valley. This will give scientists an important tool to monitor ecosystem behavior, specifically how soil moisture levels impact the way water moves through the watershed and how much makes it to streams.
Water Desk Editor Heather Sackett spent some time on the statehouse beat this week, breaking the news of a proposed bill from a Western Slope Democrat that would grant tax incentives to what’s known as “controlled environment agricultural facilities,” which are large greenhouses designed to grow crops hydroponically, using less water than traditional agriculture. Currently, such a facility would be treated as commercial property and taxed accordingly. The bill, which remains in draft form, would allow those facilities to qualify for the much-more-tax-favorable agricultural rate, potentially saving up to $250,000 per year for the owner of the 113-400-square-foot facility that is under construction in Silt. Proponents argue that facilities like the one in Silt will be increasingly important for the food supply as the climate warms, but there are questions about whether they should qualify for the tax break. And the bill has been drafted so that it would not apply to marijuana and hemp facilities.
From our data desk, the Tracking the Curve project continues to serve as a daily reminder that, although the vaccine rollout is picking up steam, the threat posed by COVID-19 remains high. Pitkin County is reporting that more than one-third of the new cases seen last week were confirmed as, or suspected to be, from a growing number of more contagious COVID-19 variants, as Pitkin posts the highest seven-day incidence rate of any county in Colorado.
— Curtis Wackerle, editor
Proposed statehouse bill could benefit Silt greenhouse
By Heather Sackett | April 1, 2021
Proponents of the project say that with climate change increasing temperatures, which in turn increases the amount of water crops need, the future of growing food is indoors. Read more
Soil-moisture monitoring station high in Castle Creek Valley completes local water-research network
By Natalie Keltner-McNeil | March 30, 2021
Gathering data at all elevations throughout the Roaring Fork Valley provides scientists with a localized, clearer picture of how climate change is impacting the hydrologic cycle at the Colorado basin’s headwaters. Read more
Tracking the Curve
By Laurine Lassalle | April 2, 2021
Last week, 36% of the COVID-19 cases in Pitkin County were confirmed or suspected COVID-19 variants. Read more
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