Letter: Stormwater system is everyone’s responsibility | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Stormwater system is everyone’s responsibility

We have recently received and responded to questions concerning smells from city storm-sewer inlets. The community may wonder: Why does the stormwater system smell at all? While smells do emerge from naturally decomposing organic materials that accumulate in stormwater inlets and pipes (think: leaves from the fall sitting in water for most of the winter), bad odors also may indicate illegal dumping into the city’s stormwater system. Only stormwater (rain and snowmelt) is allowed in the system, which includes street inlets, pipes and roadside swales. This is because the system discharges directly into the Roaring Fork River. If you see or suspect anyone dumping contaminants, spilling material into the alley or street, or any similar sort of activity, please let the city know immediately.

The city is currently running tests on our stormwater system downtown to determine if the odors are originating from natural or illegal sources. We cleaned the inlets that are under our control this past weekend and will continue to do so regularly this spring. We ask property owners to do the same for the inlets or sump pumps they are responsible for.

Not many cities in the U.S. have the opportunity, the political will and the environmental ethic to create the extensive Clean River Initiative Program (Stormwater Program) that the city has. We take pride in protecting our rivers. However, we cannot do it alone. What every individual pours down their drain or throws into the street has an impact on the health of our river and the proper functioning of our stormwater system. We all have to do our part.

If you have questions or concerns, please contact me — April Long, city of Aspen stormwater manager — at 970-429-2781 or april.long@cityofaspen.com.

April Long

Stormwater manager, city of Aspen