Letter: Vote for Mick to protect Western Slope water | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Vote for Mick to protect Western Slope water

It’s a point of interest that opinion surveys in Aspen often place the importance of keeping water in the Roaring Fork through town at or near the top of the list, yet I can’t remember a single question during Squirm Night that dealt with this issue.

Here’s a point to consider: The name of the game over the past four decades has been for Front Range water interests to ask for additional water diversions but contractually agree to protect Western Slope water through various forms of “mitigation.” But when it comes to making good on those promises, the performance has been at a remarkably low level. This is usually accomplished by hiring teams of attorneys who point out why these commitments are invalid or point out that the terms have expired through some obscure deficiency in the contract or other agreement.

I can recall a single elected official from Pitkin County who was willing to point out deficiencies in this game of wriggling out of ironclad commitments to protect Roaring Fork streamflows. This occurred when Mick Ireland was a county commissioner and listened to Front Range representatives explain why their perpetual commitment (dating from the 1970s at the time that diversions from Hunter Creek were first initiated) to exchange a portion of that water through Grizzly Reservoir and release that water into the Upper Roaring Fork was actually only good for a 15-year term and that their performance under the terms of the contract was about to stop. I observed Mick pointedly asserting that such an interpretation wouldn’t be taken lightly by his constituency in Pitkin County. Tahe result of standing up to these water interests is that there is a continuing obligation to release the contractually agreed water to mitigate the effects of diversions from the 1970s-era diversions from Hunter Creek. Imagine an even drier Roaring Fork River through Aspen in late summer, and thank Ireland by awarding him your vote for City Council. He is not only capable of talking the talk but is capable of walking the extra mile to keep Western Slope water flowing.

Phil Overeynder