Letter: Ask City Council to abandon rights for dams on Castle and Maroon Creeks | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Ask City Council to abandon rights for dams on Castle and Maroon Creeks

Today at 4 p.m., the city of Aspen will hold its second of three meetings on conditional water rights the city holds to build two reservoirs on Castle and Maroon Creeks. Please show up to this meeting and ask the council to abandon these rights to ensure these reservoirs are forever taken off the books.

Both reservoirs would inundate portions of the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, sever two of the valley’s most iconic free-flowing streams and forever alter the two valleys’ ecosystems by stopping the ecologically critical spring runoff. The city’s first meeting focused almost exclusively on the risks posed to Aspen’s water supply by climate change and population growth. Important issues to be sure, but a study released by the city of Aspen earlier this year found that even taking into account these two factors “the city can always provide sufficient potable and raw water supplies.” With that study in hand, it’s hard to see why the city is still pursuing the rights to build these reservoirs.

City staff did a good job of reaching out to the community on this issue, but unfortunately the City Council has heard no information regarding the impacts these two dams would have to Castle and Maroon creeks, nor the tremendous legal and financial hurdles that would be necessary to actually build the two dams, nor basic information about the proposed reservoirs themselves. A council member even had to ask how tall the dams would be at the last meeting, as this information was not presented. To be clear, the city is not proposing to build the dams at this time. What they are contemplating though is proving in Colorado water court that they “can and will” build these two dams in a “reasonable” amount of time.

For those of us who think that Castle and Maroon Creeks should never be dammed or the Maroon Bells Wilderness flooded, it’s an easy conclusion to come to that the city of Aspen should abandon its right to do so. Please show up tonight and again Oct. 10 when the council will vote and ask them to do just that.

Will Roush

Conservation Director, Wilderness Workshop

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