Speak now or forever lose our (Ruedi) water | AspenTimes.com

Speak now or forever lose our (Ruedi) water

It’s time for the Roaring Fork Valley to get serious about buying the remaining unallocated water in Ruedi Reservoir.

Readers of The Aspen Times may have noticed stories over the past week about water in Ruedi and the various ideas about how to use it. There are no firm proposals on the table yet to divert water from Ruedi to the Front Range, but it’s only a matter of time ” unless local interests band together with an application for some or all of that presently unsold, federally administered water.

Of the 102,000 acre-feet that Ruedi can hold, 18,600 acre-feet have not been sold or allocated for any particular use. And while nobody has ever applied to use Ruedi water for recreational purposes like boating, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation signaled this week that it would entertain such a proposal. According to a Bureau spokeswoman, the congressional authorization for the Fryingpan-Arkansas project, which includes Ruedi, allows the sale of water for recreation.

“Our door is open to requests,” said the Bureau’s Kara Lamb.

Sure, the feds have long directed water toward agriculture, industry and municipal water agencies ” the big dams across the West weren’t built, after all, for fun-hogs ” but it’s clear there is a window of opportunity here for Roaring Fork Valley residents to keep this water where it belongs.

Local environmental groups would like to see water remain in the Fryingpan and Roaring Fork rivers in order to benefit the extraordinary trout fisheries. Surely anglers far and wide would agree, as would the tourism-dependent businesses throughout the valley that cater to them. Healthy rivers deliver both environmental and economic benefits.

Similarly, the boaters, sailors and campers who enjoy summers at Ruedi would like to see as much water as possible remain in the reservoir. To our knowledge, there are few if any valley residents who wouldn’t like to see the remaining Ruedi water purchased and used for Roaring Fork Valley purposes.

So, folks, now is the time.

After years of drought, Front Range development interests are sniffing around for water anywhere they can get it. If the Bureau of Reclamation is willing to hear a Roaring Fork proposal for Ruedi water, then local governments, environmentalists, boaters, anglers, businesses and other interested parties should band together and give it a try.