Hydroplant will damage your rivers | AspenTimes.com

Hydroplant will damage your rivers

Dear Editor:

Colorado Trout Unlimited is very concerned about the impacts to Castle and Maroon creeks from the proposed Castle Creek hydropower facility.

Colorado Trout Unlimited recognizes that hydropower can play a role in responsibly reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, but the organization is opposed to conventional hydropower development that fails to meet “low-impact” standards. We are concerned that, as proposed, the Castle Creek project will have significant, “not low,” impacts on streams and riparian wetlands.

Diversions from Castle and Maroon creeks for the hydroelectric plant will cause a serious dewatering of long reaches in both streams. At times, as much as two-thirds of the native flow might be removed from the streams, and diversions will be significant throughout much of the year – 40 percent or more of flow for nine out of 12 months in normal years.

The environmental damage that results from significant dewatering of rivers and streams is well documented. Once it occurs, it is extremely difficult and expensive to mitigate.

Although bare “minimum” flows might be met, they are not enough to maintain a healthy stream. Lower flows will reduce the streams’ ability to keep themselves clean, with sediment building up sooner and flushing only in spring runoff – putting at risk both trout-spawning habitat and the insect life on which fish depend.

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Modern hydroelectric technology can produce responsible energy without dewatering miles of local streams. Colorado Trout Unlimited believes that Aspen can be a leader in renewable energy by pursuing true “low-impact” approaches to hydropower that do not damage the health of rivers.

To encourage such “low-impact” hydropower, Colorado Trout Unlimited developed a policy statement last year, which can be seen at http://www.coloradotu.org/energy-development/. A guiding principal of this policy comes from the Hydropower Reform Coalition’s statement that “We should not, in the name of renewable energy development, destroy the very resources we are trying to protect from the effects of climate change.”

Colorado Trout Unlimited joins the local Ferdinand Hayden Chapter in asking the city to reconsider its plans for the Castle Creek hydropower plant.

David Nickum

Colorado Trout Unlimited, Denver