More on hydro
October 27, 2012
Thanks to all of you who responded to my previous letter asking for more information on the hydro plant. I’ve gotten some excellent information from both sides of the issue (in private and in public). The chamber presentation at the Limelight and the special issue of Cross Currents were particularly informative. What a great job of keeping the electorate informed, and I’m proud to be part of such a passionate and concerned community.
In my opinion, the 800-pound gorilla in the room is water-right law. Is my choice really picking which city gets to ruin Castle and Maroon creeks – Aspen or one on the Front Range? This needs a water lawyer (which I am not), and I haven’t gotten a definitive answer. I hate this question. It’s “Sophie’s Choice,” but you get to shoot both the kids – oh joy.
The advisory vote is basically a vote of confidence or no confidence. Two things would make me more confident in the hydro-energy plan.
First, add oversight by experts in stream-bed restoration who focus on connected habitats. No one has mentioned measuring soil-
moisture content on the banks of either creek. The monitoring is for water flow, water temperature and aquatic organisms – not how the stream feeds the vegetation on its banks and that is what determines the quality of the habitat.
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The second is to get some large-scale battery storage for Aspen (invite Donald Sadoway here to test drive his liquid metal batteries). No one has mentioned our changing weather patterns, which likely will increase the number of flood events (like Hunter Creek in 2006). The streams will probably cut deeper and “dewater” the vegetation on the banks even more. As we begin to depend on alternative-energy sources, which are less constant, we need to pay attention to ways of storing energy for usage “on demand.”
I want some good to come of this debate, and there is only one action I can think of that is a positive action.
Please don’t ignore the 800-pound gorilla in the room: Draconian water law. As long as our feudal system encourages senior rights holders to drain the river dry to guard their “share,” then there can be no vote of confidence in that system.
Please write your state representatives and tell them we want riparian areas protected, we want streamflows defended, and we want some of that $2.8 billion in lottery money to go for protecting the water as well as “parks, recreation, open space, conservation, education and wildlife projects”; because without the water, there is no wildlife to protect, open space for recreation or a park to conserve. You don’t have to be a voter in Aspen to voice that opinion. You just need to be a voter in Colorado. It’s a Western Slope issue. We can, and should, stand together on this one.