Environment loses with hydroelectric
October 5, 2012
Here is a little thought experiment to help clarify the hydro issue – you be the judge.
Imagine that here in the Roaring Fork Valley it’s a hot summer day, and you are planning a picnic.
1. Would you prefer to be in a shady place with trees or an open area that has no shade?
2. Would you prefer a dried-out field, or a place near a mountain stream?
My guess is that most people, and animals for that matter, would prefer the shade of trees and the natural air conditioning carried by cool mountain water.
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Mountain streams are lovely to look at and confer many other benefits, not least their mitigating effect on a rapidly warming climate. Gravel-bed creeks such as Castle and Maroon nourish the entire valleys that they occupy.
Taking as much water as the city contemplates will alter these valleys radically within a few short years. Trees and bushes lining the creeks will die off without the subsurface aquifer, and nearby wetlands turn to dry savannas. The wildlife will die, too. It’s estimated that 95 percent of our native species depend on living streams and riparian areas.
The argument that we have to destroy the streams to keep from burning coal is egregious nonsense. Energy conservation and wind and solar power are readily available today, at lower cost and without the need for special permits. Low-impact hydropower also can be part of the mix without hurting anything. Let’s install another turbine in the Ruedi dam, and let’s buy hydropower from Ridgway from a similar source. There are other locations in the valley that also will work.
Benign hydropower makes some sense. The city’s proposal is a horrible mistake. Vote “no” on 2C.