Aspen’s vote for clean water |

Aspen’s vote for clean water

Dear Editor:The Roaring Fork Conservancy would like to thank Aspen voters for passing referendum 2D, and let them know why Aspen, of all places, needs to work on stormwater. The conservancy monitors 24 water quality sampling sites in our watershed with the help of local schools and volunteers. We were also contracted by the city of Aspen to help establish a baseline of pollutants in existing stormwater retention ponds, and indeed, there are pollutants. Referendum 2D’s passage will help reduce the impact pollutants have on the Roaring Fork River by building a stormwater pond for filtering and retaining them. What pollutants from Aspen make it into the river we use for fishing, growing crops and drinking water? The upper Roaring Fork is generally in excellent condition, but we’ve noticed some emerging issues, most notably with regard to aluminum and total suspended solids.The conservancy works with volunteers and Aspen High School to sample monthly at three sites on the upper Roaring Fork River. These upper-river stations are at Difficult campground, the Mill Street bridge and the Slaughterhouse bridge.Notably, we’ve seen an increase in aluminum levels at the Slaughterhouse bridge station on Cemetery Lane. This happens each spring at an increasing level, which may coincide with current stormwater retention ponds, such as Jenny Adair, being overwhelmed. And, yes, the Jenny Adair pond, upstream of Slaughterhouse but below Mill Street, does have quite a bit of aluminum in it. This rise in spring aluminum at the Slaughterhouse station is still below the state limit of dissolved aluminum (aluminum that can be easily absorbed by our rivers’ animals). But Aspen voters agreed not to bow to mediocrity and instead strive for excellence. The voters help ensure that the Roaring Fork River, with such pristine trout habitat, should not have the same standards as the South Platte running through Denver.We at the conservancy agree. Healthy rivers are a vital part of our communities. We catch their fish, grow crops with their waters and pipe them into our homes. With an increasing pollution problem, as evidenced by aluminum and levels of suspended solids collected by the city of Aspen flowing off the streets and into the Roaring Fork being many times higher than the national average, polluted waters could become a public health hazard. Clean water also helps maintain our own fishing economy, with approximately $18 million generated through direct and indirect sources.Colorado is the only true headwaters state in the continental United States. Water is generated here and flows out to many other states in our country. Therefore we hold the responsibility for our water quality. Whether polluted or not, our water flows downstream. Water quality in Aspen affects that of Carbondale, Grand Junction and beyond.At the Roaring Fork Conservancy, we believe it is also our duty as a community to have our waters as clean as possible for those downstream users. Thank you, Aspen voters, for making this necessary step toward cleaner water. Rick Lofaro and Jacob BornsteinBasalt

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