City of Aspen Testing Underground Geothermal Potential

Press Release


City of Aspen Testing Underground Geothermal Potential


Contact:  Lauren McDonell, Environmental Initiatives Program Manager, City of Aspen- Phone (970) 429-1831 – Email: or Mitzi Rapkin, Community Relations Director, City of Aspen - Phone: 970-920-5082 or 970-319-2971- Email: or John Kaufman, Rocky Mountain Water Consulting – (303)-726-4310

Aspen, Colorado – July 11, 2011–The City of Aspen is planning to conduct underground borehole testing to see if there is potential to utilize geothermal energy in the city.  The exploration is part of the City’s commitment to reach the Canary Initiative’s goal of reducing Aspen’s greenhouse gases by 30% by 2020 and 80% by 2050.

In 2008 the City did a feasibility study investigating geothermal potential.  Preliminary studies showed temperatures in the 90-140 degree range are likely in some areas of the City.  The testing is to determine if this is true.  The test site will be located in the gravel parking lot next to Prockter Open Space, which is across from Heron Park.  Because this parking lot property is operated by Open Space, the City’s Open Space and Trails Board must approve the project.  If approved, the testing will begin in September.

The test involves drilling a well in the parking lot.  Including set-up and take-down, it will take 30-45 days, with 10-20 of those dedicated to drilling the actual well.  Parking at Prockter Park will be unavailable during that time, but will still be available at Heron Park. The drill site footprint for the drilling rig and support vehicles will be approximately 3,500 square feet.  The well will be about 1000 feet deep and 6-8 inches in diameter. Noise from the project will comply with City ordinance and is expected to be at or below 55 decibels, about the volume of a dishwasher.

“We wanted to pick a site that is City-owned and as close to the old mine workings as possible without being in them,” said John Kaufman of Rocky Mountain Water Consulting, the City’s consultant.  “We are looking to find out the temperature of the water, the water chemistry, like if it is hard water or alkaline and we hope not to find heavy metals in the water.  We have to do it near but not in the old mines because drilling into the old mines can be very dangerous but since we heard the water was hot while the miners were working down there, it’s good to be close to them.” 

The spot for the test well is just west of old mine workings but will not disturb any heavy metal deposits in the area.

“This is a very exciting opportunity for Aspen to explore the potential for a unique, local, clean energy source while tackling the issue of climate change,” said Lauren McDonell, Environmental Initiatives Program Manager for the City.  “It’s nice to know we already have some support for this project.  Earlier this year the City won a $50,000 grant from the Governor’s Energy Office to help fund geothermal testing.”

The test site is only to determine the potential of using geothermal resources for heating, cooling or electricity.  It does not mean it is a permanent site or that the City will automatically pursue geothermal resources.

Geothermal resources, if viable in Aspen, are an affordable, renewable, clean, local and carbon-neutral form of energy.

The City is inviting public participation in this testing process.  There will be a neighborhood informational meeting July 11 at 5:30 at Herron Park.  On July 14 at 5pm the City’s Open Space and Trails Board meets at the Sister Cities room in City Hall and will take public comment.

The City invites citizens and the media to attend and participate.

For more information go to



Posted on Tuesday, July 12, 2011