Wastewater workers ‘carpe diem’ | AspenTimes.com

Wastewater workers ‘carpe diem’

Jordan Curet/The Aspen Times

ASPEN There used to be carp in our crap – or, more specifically, in Aspen’s wastewater treatment system – but no more.Aspen Consolidated Sanitation District, in the process of purging and renovating two wastewater treatment ponds at the plant on the Roaring Fork River, just below the Aspen Business Center, have evicted several dozen carp living in the ponds for more than a decade.The emptying and partial filling is part of a $10 million systems upgrade that also will entail construction of a new filtration building and installation of new equipment designed to help the district deal with Aspen’s seasonally variable treatment needs. The ponds will be back “on-line,” but smaller, after the project is completed, said plant manager Tracy Dillingham.

The carp, specially purchased and imported by the sanitation district, are called “Sino-Soviet Grass Carp,” Dillingham said. He said the fish – which are bred to be sterile – were purchased and placed in the ponds as a way of controlling algae, which the carp eat.It was all done under the supervision of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources and the Division of Wildlife, and is “a good, eco-friendly way to get rid of algae” without resorting to chemical means, Dillingham said.A local resident, who declined to give his name, called The Aspen Times last week after hiking on the Rio Grande Trail near the treatment plant and spotting the gold-colored carp swimming in what he thought was part of the Roaring Fork River. He became alarmed at the idea that an invasive fish species was being introduced into the river’s ecosystem.

“There’s absolutely no way that they’d be in the river,” said Dillingham, adding that even if any of the carp made it into the river they would quickly perish because they are not able to live in cold-water environments. He said the carp need water at 50 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer, and that the treatment ponds are generally around 51 degrees, but the river is far colder.The carp, which are related to goldfish, have grown to “well-advanced maturity,” measuring as long as 35 inches and weighing as much as 15 pounds or more, Dillingham said. He said they have reached the end of their life cycle and were dying off anyway, even without the fatal effects of draining and filling the ponds.As they have died off, he said, they were scooped up, put into a truck and hauled up to the Pitkin County Landfill for disposal.

John Colson’s e-mail address is jcolson@aspentimes.com

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