Hydro is not worth the trade-off
October 29, 2012
Why are we here in Aspen?
The Aspen hydro issue boils down to whether anything is sacred anymore. The hydro issue forces us to focus on truly meaningful trade-offs in our lives. As proposed by the city, Maroon and Castle creeks will be significantly dewatered along 6.5 miles! These are wild, irreplaceable and precious stream systems; no one knows how dramatically this dewatering will affect both streams’ ecosystems.
The city has hired an expert but in the wrong field. They have studied only the stream-channel biology, which is important. But they haven’t studied the stream ecology to understand the impacts on the complex relationships between streams, riparian areas and wetlands. Maybe the city has done more than people did in the 19th century to understand stream impacts, but the city falls far short of utilizing 21st-century science.
In the life system of the narrow river valley that we all inhabit, what do we get in return for this highly risky venture into the unknown, guided by city bureaucrats who are neither hydro experts nor stream ecologists? The city gets a small increase of a theoretical 8 percent in energy for city facilities, none for residents’ or taxpayers’ home use. They admit they can’t even get the 8 percent because they won’t be able to run the hydro year round due to low flows and ice in the winter.
I am here in Aspen in this precious mountain valley, created by rivers, to appreciate its unique gifts, not to sacrifice them for an arrogant statement of nostalgia to a past mining era of old technology and environmental devastation. Let’s look at a combination of non-impactful micro-hydro, wind and solar in an honest way and truly leave coal power behind. If you are an Aspen voter, ask yourself why you are here and what is truly most important to you.
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