Hot Springs Lodge: protect the aquifer | AspenTimes.com

Hot Springs Lodge: protect the aquifer

Pete Fowler
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” The Hot Springs Lodge and Pool has proposed a city ordinance to protect against possible damage to the area’s geothermal aquifer.

The ordinance would require permitting for excavation in certain areas. It would require applicants for permits to conduct engineering and geologic work to “demonstrate conclusively” that excavation wouldn’t harm the geothermal mantle protecting the aquifer in any way, according to a letter signed by Hot Springs Lodge and Pool general manager Kjell Mitchell to city officials.

That aquifer, of course, is the source of the hot springs that feed Glenwood’s famous hot-springs pools, operated by the Hot Springs Lodge and Pool.

“We’re just trying to do something that protects an asset for the community,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell said the ordinance would affect the area along the Colorado River, a certain distance north and south from the river banks and within the city limits. The ordinance is modeled after a similar ordinance in Manitou Springs, and it would come as a proactive measure after a long history of battles over water rights and “horror stories” relative to other shared aquifers, he added.

The proposed ordinance is meant to prevent someone from, for example, drilling a well that strikes the aquifer’s protective mantle, since they might not know how to stop the flow of water, Mitchell said.

Recommended Stories For You

The letter to city officials begins, “We are informed the former Mid-Continent property is under contract for sale and the sale is presently in a due diligence stage, also that the State of Colorado proposes a large office building on its CDOT property.

“We want to take this opportunity to again raise a long standing concern; specifically, the shallow occurrence of the protective mantle for the geothermal aquifer feeding the Yampah and other hot springs beneath not just the hot springs properties north of the Colorado River but those lands within the city limits westerly of the hot springs properties. The Glenwood Hot Springs Lodge and Pool fears the shallow geothermal mantle may be inadvertently damaged by construction activity. … This concern is not theoretical. CDOT has already nicked the geothermal mantle and has been unable to remediate the damage.”

Asked about the letter, Mitchell said he didn’t want to discuss any rumored sale of the property or past damage to the aquifer’s mantle. The same concerns about the aquifer were also brought up during previous discussions about locating a whitewater park in the Colorado River, he added.

The proposed ordinance goes before the City Council at a work session Thursday.

Mayor Bruce Christensen said CDOT is looking at developing its property west of Two Rivers Park and doing some construction there. The Hot Springs Lodge and Pool has always had a concern about any excavation that could negatively impact the geothermal aquifer, he added, and it has said that when a well farther downstream is operating, it reduces the flow into the hot springs pool.

“We would all like to make sure there is a good faith effort to protect the resource,” he said. “The hot springs are very important to Glenwood both economically and socially.”

On the other hand, Christensen said, the city needs to make sure it’s not exposing the community to any legal liability. City officials will also have to assess what level of government intervention is appropriate for the community while considering the ordinance, he added.