Grizzly Reservoir drains, causing muddy waters in the Roaring Fork |

Grizzly Reservoir drains, causing muddy waters in the Roaring Fork

Staff report
The Roaring Fork River turned muddy Tuesday after two days of draining from the Grizzly Reservoir. The draining is being done so a gate that diverts water to the Front Range can be fixed.
Jeremy Wallace/The Aspen Times |

The Roaring Fork River’s brownish-orange hue seen Tuesday is the result of the draining of Grizzly Reservoir, not another Colorado mine tailings spill.

April Long, stormwater manager for the city of Aspen, said a log was stuck in one of the gates that diverts water to the Front Range, preventing the gate from closing. The reservoir had to be drained in order to fix the gate, she said via email to The Aspen Times.

“When they removed the log, they found a gasket was broken, so that has to be ordered and installed, hopefully in the next few days,” she said.

Kim Schryver, a caretaker at Grizzly Reservoir, said the reservoir hasn’t been drained in at least 7 years, as long as she’s been there.

“If you were up here it would blow your mind,” she said about the sight of the dried up reservoir. “But when something is wrong, they have to fix it.”

Long said the draining began slowly on Sunday because campers were still at the lake, but it was accelerated in the last two days. Now that the reservoir is completely drained, its managers plan to divert more inflow water through a different tunnel, which won’t drain into the Roaring Fork River, in the next couple of days, Long said.

Schryver said crews are working to fix the gate as quickly as possible.

“We don’t like sending all our water to Aspen — that’s not our business,” Schryver said. “They’re in a hurry to fix it, as quickly as (Wednesday) or maybe a few days.”

Long said the water is not toxic, though it may contain naturally occurring metals and minerals.