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The value of water

Dear Editor:

When I evaluate issues in Aspen I try and consider the value of the investment to the community. In the case of the hydro debate I have not yet been convinced by the opponents that we, Aspen, are better off losing over 52 cubic feet per second (cfs) of water (while also gaining 1 megawatt of power, a degree of autonomy from “the grid,” and noncarbon-based power).

This is a ton of water and being a very senior right is an amazing asset that we as a community own. It is worth a lot monetarily, but more importantly is an asset we can use to great environmental benefit. When opponents present the issues associated with cost and process (both of which I respect), why do they ignore the value of these water rights?

If the opponents are successful, we lose the rights to run hydro, and the right to control four times the minimum stream flow and leave the water in the stream to augment minimum stream flows when appropriate. Ironically, If this water right goes away, all those opponents who live on the creek will be relying on minimum stream flow rights (12 cfs) to keep the stream at a healthy level only as the 52 cfs that we own will be gone and available for others to claim. In 100 or 200 years, will water be more valuable and more coveted than any asset in the world? Where will the opponents be then? Where will our water be? Like the Red and Yellow Brick schoolhouses, affordable housing, the Wheeler Opera House and countless pubic holdings, this is a legacy asset that should be the community’s forever.

Let’s be fair about the assessment of the value of this proposal and include the value (objective and subjective) of the water Aspen owns and will lose if we don’t do hydro.

Scott Writer

Aspen


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