No dam way

Does the city of Aspen really believe it will need to build two huge dams in wilderness areas to supply water to future Aspen? Does it believe it will be allowed to build them even if it doesn’t need them? No on both counts. Here’s how one knows.

The oppositions to these dams filed in water court by the U.S. Justice Department say, in part, “Because (the city of Aspen) does not hold a valid right to use or occupy national forest system lands, and the U.S. Forest Service lacks authority to authorize development of Maroon Creek Reservoir within the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area, the (city) cannot complete the (project) within a reasonable time.” Moreover, in September, the acting district ranger for the Forest Service told the City Council that only the president of the United States could authorize building those dams.

Does the city contemplate sending a militia to seize Forest Service land? No. Does the city plan to hold the president hostage until he grants the right to build the dams? No. How does the city think it’s going to get to enter Forest Service land with heavy equipment and crews and build dams the Forest Service won’t permit? It doesn’t have a clue. The city doesn’t think. It just throws money at stuff until (maybe) the citizens finally say “enough already.”

This is yet another “it has a life of its own” boondoggle courtesy of City Hall. In addition to staff time, the city has paid perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars to outside lawyers and consultants to keep alive a project that has zero chance of ever happening.

The insanity of this project is demonstrated by asking one question: If the city of Aspen were serious that it expects to need a huge new source of water and the U.S. government has told the city “no way, no how on those dams,” wouldn’t one think the city would have been working on alternatives? But they haven’t.

Maurice Emmer