Efforts tap Healthy Rivers fund | AspenTimes.com

Efforts tap Healthy Rivers fund

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Michael Faas The Aspen Times

ASPEN – An independent review of the impacts of a proposed Aspen hydroelectric project on Castle and Maroon Creeks will cost more than initially expected.

Pitkin County commissioners agreed Tuesday to spend $50,000 on the study, using proceeds from the tax-supported Healthy Rivers and Streams Fund. The study was initially expected to cost $15,000, but estimates from four independent consultants led to the request for a larger allocation.

A citizen board that oversees the Healthy Rivers and Streams Fund recommended the higher expenditure to commissioners.

It was one of three different proposals to tap the fund that commissioners endorsed Tuesday.

A Roaring Fork Watershed Plan being developed by the Roaring Fork Conservancy and Ruedi Water and Power Authority will get a $38,000 boost from the fund to cover a shortfall in finishing the plan, plus $5,000 for other costs, including a couple of educational events planned in 2011.

The watershed plan, now in its second phase, will include a set of recommendations to address water issues.

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“This is fundamental to any progress we make on our water,” said Commissioner Michael Owsley, supporting the request.

Commissioners also supported a $100,000 allocation from the fund to pay for legal and engineering fees associated with seeking a recreational water right on the Roaring Fork River in Basalt.

The water right would protect flows in the river to benefit river ecology, as well as recreation. A kayak park in the river at Basalt is envisioned.

County voters approved creation of the Healthy Rivers and Streams Fund to finance efforts to protect and improve water quality and quantity in the Roaring Fork watershed and to secure and augment minimum streamflows.

After the three allocations endorsed Tuesday, the fund contains $873,044.

janet@aspentimes.com

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