In the last week at Aspen Journalism, our data desk took a deep dive into recent numbers from the Pitkin County Solid Waste Center, and found that the growing popularity of composting — particularly within households — has been playing an increasingly important role at the facility.
The local landfill has a finite lifespan, and the more material that can be diverted and not buried in the ground, the further out into the future that time will stretch. So practices like composting and recycling make a tangible difference in our community’s sustainability. That’s especially important considering that construction and demolition waste takes up an inordinate amount of space at the facility located between Woody Creek and Snowmass Canyon. While the national average is about 20% of landfill waste coming from “C&D,” Pitkin County’s real estate-focused economy saw that 54% of landfill waste in 2021 came from tearing down and building, Data Desk Editor Laurine Lassalle reports in the piece, featuring her clarifying data visualizations and photographs, which ran in Saturday’s Aspen Times and on aspenjournalism.org.
Also in the last week, Water Desk Editor Heather Sackett had a critical update on the runoff forecast as snowpack levels peak. Once again, runoff will underperform snowpack levels, but not as dramatically as last year. While that’s good news, it will not be enough to fill up many Western Slope reservoirs, which means the challenges wrought by recent drought years are not going away.
Our most recent Data Dashboard shows winter occupancy numbers for Aspen and Snowmass that rival pre-pandemic years, while providing a week-by-week tracker of snowpack, streamflows and Lake Powell’s capacity.
And Tracking the Curve serves as a perhaps unwelcome reminder that COVID-19 is still with us. It is in fact gaining ground in Pitkin County, which once again has the highest seven-day new case incidence rate in the state at 242 per 100,000. Still, numbers are in lower-risk categories in Eagle and Garfield counties, and statewide hospitalizations are at their lowest levels since the pandemic began.
And in The Bucket — our weekly reading list from other news sources — we take special note of a Denver Post investigation into pandemic relief numbers that drills down on why Pitkin County saw such a high level of per-capita assistance.
Thank you for reading, and supporting, Aspen Journalism.
Curtis Wackerle, editor and executive director
In Aspen, residents are responsible for the recent composting boom, while very few restaurants compost their food waste.
By Laurine Lassalle | April 15, 2022
In 2021, the Pitkin County landfill composted 14,295 tons of waste, the highest amount recorded since 2015, according to Pitkin County Solid Waste Center data shared with Aspen Journalism. It’s a 19.5% increase from 2020’s 11,961 tons and an 11.7% increase from 2019’s 12,799 tons, the previous record. The amount of composted waste increased by 41.5% between 2015 and 2021.
Many reservoirs still depleted, may not fill
By Heather Sackett | April 13, 2022
But even though things on the whole are better than the previous two years, the lingering effects of drought means reservoirs are depleted and may take several seasons to rebound.
Recent snowstorm increased local snowpack. Indy Pass’ snowpack is at about 87% of average, up from 80% last week.
By Laurine Lassalle | April 19, 2022
• Paid occupancy in Aspen reached 79% in March, up from 66% last year and 79.2% from 2019.
• Lake Powell lost 2.4 inches since April 10, compared to a 6-inch drop between March 27 and April. 3.
Documenting COVID-19 in Pitkin, Eagle and Garfield counties
By Laurine Lassalle | April 19, 2022
Pitkin County has the highest COVID incidence rate in the state, with an incidence of about 242 per 100,000 on April 18, followed by San Juan County and its incidence of 140.
“‘What I don’t think most people understand is if we have the Marshall Fire here, what does emergency egress look like? As I’ve started to learn about that, it’s frightening,’ said Assistant City Manager Diane Foster. ‘Castle Creek Bridge needs to be replaced in the next 15 to 20 years, and if we don’t have another bridge, we’re going to be up the creek.’”
Source: aspentimes.com | Read more
The Big Payout: Pitkin County, home to Aspen, received highest share of relief money as resort communities topped list
“More than $339 million in federal pandemic assistance tracked to Pitkin County recipients by The Post amounted to less than 1% of the state’s total. But it came out to $19,545 per resident — more than twice the average per-capita breakdown statewide. The greatest drivers were programs aimed at keeping businesses alive and workers paid, with 47% of Pitkin County’s money going to recipients of the Paycheck Protection Program, which covered payroll and other fixed costs. The government forgave most of those PPP loans.”
Source: denverpost.com | Read more
“‘The light trespass is impacting everyone in the immediate vicinity,’ she wrote, adding it’s a traffic-safety issue for motorists at the nearby Dry Hollow Road intersection. It’s also impacting wildlife habits in the vicinity, she said. ‘There is not one of us that have built our homes next to his greenhouse. … He built his greenhouse next to our homes.’”
Source: postindependent.com | Read more
“‘I don’t see them acting in our best interest or the town’s best interest,’ Vail Town Councilman Kevin Foley said. ‘Look, we need employees and we need housing but we don’t need it at the expense of a herd of sheep who have been here longer than any of us have been here.’”
Source: coloradosun.com | Read more
“The bureau, Trujillo said, has not had to operate at such low levels since the reservoir was filled. The issues associated with operating Lake Powell below the critical threshold, Trujillo wrote, raise ‘profound concerns regarding prudent dam operations, facility reliability, public health and safety, and the ability to conduct emergency operations.’”
Source: thenevadaindependent.com | Read more
“It’s become hard to remember a day recently when the heavily populated – and tinder dry – Colorado Front Range wasn’t under a red flag warning for extreme fire danger. Since the Marshall Fire, there have been several close calls, including the recent NCAR Fire, which forced Arzelia Walker to briefly evacuate her home of forty years in south Boulder.”
Source: nor.org | Read more
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