(Aspen, CO) The Pitkin County Healthy Rivers and Streams Fund Citizens Advisory Board (Healthy Rivers Board) hopes an independent study of the City of Aspen’s proposed hydroelectric plant on Castle Creek will help answer questions and concerns that have emerged about the project. The hydroelectric facility was approved by city voters before Healthy Rivers Board was formed a year and a half ago.
A team of experts, including a hydrologist, aquatic biologist, energy specialist and water attorney is now being commissioned by the Healthy Rivers Board to study the proposed facility and submit a public report prior to a proposed community mediation effort.
“The mission of the Healthy Rivers Board is maintaining and improving water quantity and quality in the Roaring Fork watershed. We believe that commissioning this study is an opportunity for us to make a valuable contribution to the review of this project,” said Chair of the Healthy Rivers Board, Ruthie Brown.
The team will review the assumptions, analyses, studies, and reports addressing the proposed Castle Creek Hydroelectric Project’s projected impacts upon Castle and Maroon Creeks. A public report documenting the results of the consultants’ review is expected to be completed by mid-January 2011. The report will be offered to a group of concerned citizens who reportedly plan a facilitated mediation process surrounding the hydro project review.
“It is important that the community understand that the Healthy Rivers Board is not involved in and did not initiate the citizen’s mediation process. While we anticipate that our consultants’ report will be used in the mediation process, our board is not making a judgment one way or the other about the hydro project until the report is completed,” Brown said.
The consultants’ team includes long-time water engineer/hydrologist Lee Rozaklis who has been a key technical analyst in several major water management and municipal water supply studies in Colorado and aquatic biologist Greg Espegren who was employed as an aquatics specialist with Trout Unlimited’s Colorado Water Project. Rounding out the team is Energy Specialist Kurt Johnson, founder of Telluride Energy who has worked as a renewable energy specialist for the California Public Utilities Commission and in Washington for the Environmental Protection Agency, and water attorney Sarah Klahn who represents municipal, industry, and ranching clients on water rights matters in Colorado, Idaho and Wyoming.
The consultants’ report will become a public document available for review at the Pitkin County Library early next year.