Guest commentary: City of Aspen seeks your input on 50-year water plan
Water in the West is one of the biggest challenges we will face in the coming years. It is a limited resource that is life-sustaining and essential. The majority of Aspen’s water supply originates as snow in the Elk Mountains which then flows through Castle and Maroon Creeks to eventually run from your tap. With the pressures of development and climate change, securing our water supply for our community to use for households, businesses, recreation, agriculture and the environment is essential for water providers like the city of Aspen.
The city of Aspen understands that without a clear plan for our water future, we may not be able to respond to challenges we face in the near and long term that may compromise our livelihood, health and economy. We are working on a 50-year water plan ensure we are setting the groundwork for planning, infrastructure and policies to serve our community with a sustainable source of water. We look at this process holistically. Our water planning will combine assessing supply, demand and quality, as well as environmental protection and enhancement, financial planning, and public engagement. During this process we will investigate vulnerabilities to and opportunities for our water supplies and seek ways to safeguard our water resiliency. We want to continue to build on positive efforts and our community’s water conservation successes.
Yes, this plan will establish guidelines that we can put in place through 2070 but it also will help anticipate our needs even beyond the next five decades. This plan, however, is not complete without your input and presence. Your community values are critical in helping to shape our water future.
Please join us Nov. 18 from 5 to 6 p.m. for a virtual community engagement meeting where you will learn about our past water history, the priorities for the future, and have opportunities to share your concerns and ideas. You can register at Aspen Community Voice where you can leave comments and learn more about the project. Just click on the Aspen Community Water Plan Project at http://www.aspen communityvoice.com.
Your input will help guide the final plan which will include these elements:
Recommendations to increase reliability in the water supply
Management based on a balanced approach for supply and demand
Holistic analysis and review of comprehensive alternatives
Adaptation and mitigation strategies
Alignment with community values
Pathway identification for management and investment decisions.
The final report for the water plan is expected by mid-2021 and will be implemented after Aspen City Council approval.
We look forward to seeing you as your contribution is valued and important.
Steve Hunter is the utilities resource manager for the City of Aspen Water Department.
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