City will likely require Residences to hire a third party to investigate stormwater contamination

Erica Robbie
The Aspen Times

After several weeks of stormwater testing with no certainty in the source of the contamination, the city of Aspen will likely require the Residences at The Little Nell to hire a third party to investigate the situation.

That’s according to the city of Aspen stormwater manager April Long, following a statement that was issued Thursday by Little Nell spokeswoman May Selby.

Selby said the Residences is working diligently to test, inspect and resolve the stormwater contamination issue that arose earlier this year after the city received several complaints of foul odors in Aspen’s core.

When stormwater tests revealed sewage was entering the city’s stormwater system from the Residences’ private plumbing system, the city of Aspen’s Engineering Department issued the luxury condo with a cease-and-desist order April 13.

Later tests and investigations showed that an unnaturally high level of E. coli was present in the stormwater system.

Long said the Residences, which is still disconnected from the city’s stormwater system, will not be permitted to reconnect until it has identified the source of the contamination, eliminated all other possible sources and resolved any ability for the source to contaminate the system in the future.

“There’s still actions we’re asking them to take to try and identify that source as correctly as we can,” Long said.

Some of these actions include video monitoring and additional cleaning and inspection of the stormwater sump pumps.

The city and the Nell have met regularly to “hear about actions they’re taking and suggest ideas as to where the contamination could be getting into their system, and investigate the cause of this together,” Long said.

On Wednesday, the city met with the Residences general manager and chief engineer to formulate a plan of action that included flushing out all stormwater lines, Selby said.

In the meantime, the Residences is diverting its stormwater to the sanitary line, Selby said, noting that it will return to the stormwater line once approved.

Selby estimated that the results of the water tests may take up to a week or longer, though Long thinks it will take more than a week to complete all of the city’s requested actions.