Aspen Journalism’s Brent Gardner-Smith published an article (”State of Colorado’s Instream Flow Program is Lauded, Challenged,” Aspen Daily News, Jan. 21) about the financial and legal challenges the Colorado Water Conservation Board faces buying and leasing water rights from owners who donate the water for instream flow. The City of Aspen is a local entity that is proud to be using its senior water rights to benefit critical reaches of the Roaring Fork River, a perfect example of exactly what Gardner-Smith’s article discussed but did not mention.
Last year Aspen signed a non-diversion agreement with the Colorado Water Trust, a nonprofit organization with expertise in restoring and protecting stream flows, in order to increase flows in a critical reach of the Roaring Fork River through the City by adjusting the amount of water it takes from the Roaring Fork River at the Wheeler Ditch. This effort added between 2 and 3 cfs to the river when stream flow was well below the 32 cubic feet per second instream flow. This water helped to maintain parts of the Colorado Water Conservation Board’s 6-mile-long instream flow water right which extends from Difficult Creek to Maroon Creek.
Aspen has a longstanding commitment to stream flow protection. We are proud to be a water right owner that is serving both the needs of its citizens and the needs of the river and surrounding habitat.