Aspen issues cease and desist order to protect public health
The city of Aspen’s Engineering Department issued a cease and desist order to the Residences at The Little Nell on Wednesday for contaminating the city’s stormwater system with sewage from the building’s private plumbing system.
“This order will protect public health, Aspen’s stormwater system and downstream river users from unnatural exposure to E.coli and fecal coliform,” according to a statement released by the city Wednesday evening. “The building owners have been cooperative with the city. After conversations with the city’s Engineering Department, the owners recognized the problem and earlier this week shut down the sump pump which was draining into the storm sewer.”
Aspen Stormwater Manager April Long said the Residences at The Little Nell responded last week after testing determined the contamination was coming from the property. They stopped the pumping that was causing the issue, she said.
As a health precaution, the city has limited public access to the water features of Jenny Adair Wetlands and the western half of Rio Grande Park to prevent exposure to the bacteria. The city is advising that park users and their pets refrain from contact with the water. In addition, river users should take normal precautions to not ingest water or expose open wounds, according to the statement.
Long said the city of Aspen took more samples Wednesday and hope to have results back Friday that would determine how much of the bacteria, if any, remains.
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“Because (the Residences at The Little Nell) stopped last week, the state feels like enough time has passed that we may no longer have a bacteria issue,” she said.
Limiting public access in the parks was based on a recommendation from Robert Cribbs, environmental protection specialist with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, who is directing the city on mitigation efforts.
The city discovered the problem after several complaints related to foul odors in Aspen’s core. Subsequent tests and investigations revealed that an unnaturally high level of E. coli was present in the stormwater system. “The city will continue to monitor these areas and ensure the safety of our community,” the city’s statement said. “Please respect the closures for humans and pets.”
Little Nell spokeswoman May Selby said she was waiting to talk to management Wednesday evening before issuing a statement.
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