Grizzly buildup concerns Pitkin commissioner | AspenTimes.com

Grizzly buildup concerns Pitkin commissioner

Water from Lincoln and Grizzly creeks flows through the sediment at the bottom of Grizzly Reservoir, which was drained in August after a tree in the outlet gate caused problems.

Now that repair work is finished at Grizzly Reservoir and a system is in place to notify downvalley communities of future drainages, one Pitkin County commissioner wants to take the process a step further.

"The notification is great, but I think it's a first step," said Commissioner Rachel Richards. "I want to have further discussions about clearing the silt out."

She said she doesn't think silt should be allowed to build up for 10 or 20 more years only to have to be released again down Lincoln Creek and the Roaring Fork River if there's another emergency at Grizzly Reservoir.

Richards said she wants to know about general maintenance protocols for the reservoir and when, for example, the lake might need to be dredged.

"We've never asked these questions before," she said.

Officials at the Twin Lakes Reservoir and Canal Co., which runs Grizzly, decided to drain the reservoir Aug. 8 after discovering that an outlet gate had been damaged by a tree. Most of the water was drained through tunnels east toward Denver, but the last 10 to 20 acre feet was sent down Lincoln Creek and into the Roaring Fork River.

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No one at the Twin Lakes company notified Pitkin County, the city of Aspen or any other downstream communities. Samples taken three days after the release later showed levels of aluminum and iron that acutely exceeded state standards for aquatic life. Levels of copper and manganese also probably exceeded those standards.

Scott Campbell, Twin Lakes Reservoir and Canal Co. general manager, later apologized for the unannounced discharge and said the company wants to be a good neighbor.

Government officials and representatives from the nonprofit Roaring Fork Conservancy worked with Twin Lakes officials to come up with a notification system for downvalley communities.

Commissioner Patti Clapper also praised the new notification system, but said she was concerned that with brown trout now spawning, the reservoir may need to release water, which might lead to sediment release as well.

Commissioners directed county staff to work on getting answers from Twin Lakes Co.

A call to Campbell on Tuesday seeking comment was not returned.

jauslander@aspentimes.com