I believe most all in Aspen, who have sat on the bank of a quiet brook in September or heard the Roaring Fork or Hunter Creek swollen with snowmelt in early June, can appreciate a desire to “save our streams.” With the opening of Independence Pass, Aspenites can view from their cars the collection system at Lost Man to Lincoln Gulch that diverts water to the Eastern Slope. As an operator of the Castle Creek Hydro Plant, who has watched Castle Creek flow by that historic power house, I can fully appreciate the concerns of Saving Our Streams (SOS). So I hope SOS will help us with the public’s right to know who or what organization was behind last fall’s expensive campaign of misinformation.
How ironic that the electricity generated from hydro power was used to drive the diversion tunnels to a water hungry Eastern Slope. But early hydro power generation rights can, and do, prevent upstream transbasin diversions. Our citizens must understand that the ability to generate clean hydroelectric power, as a nonconsumptive use, can ensure the preservation of our streams.
How can this be, you ask? A partial diversion of a stream for a short distance need not and will not be detrimental to our streams. We have a good example on Maroon Creek of backyard energy, and we can do the same on Castle Creek if given the opportunity to restore clean generation for the next generation.
I am proud to have participated in the preservation of Aspen’s water rights. The USGS has maintained records on all our local streams since the late 1960s and in the case of Hunter Creek, 1956. I am pleased the USGS will continue to monitor all of our streamflows, so as to ensure the preservation of our streams. We as a community must avoid any further residential development along or near the banks or in close proximity to our streams so as to ensure the preservation of the riparian areas downstream of the Castle and Maroon creek bridges. I hope Saving Our Streams will cooperate with the city in this endeavor.
I can state as fact, that in my experience operating the power plants on Castle and Maroon creeks (as the city of Aspen), we did not denigrate the streams or their aquatic life and I am very proud to have been a part of Aspen’s hydroelectric history.