Aspen: City Council approves application for a ‘minor water power project license’ from FERC


From the Aspen Daily News (Curtis Wackerle):

City Council on Monday voted unanimously to abandon its application for a “conduit exemption” in favor of a “minor water power project license” from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which is a more rigorous review process. The city estimates that the change will mean an additional $250,000 in expenses…

Council also approved a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Colorado Division of Wildlife that aims to protect the riparian environment of the creeks. The MOU requires the city to maintain a minimum stream flow of 13.3 cfs below its existing diversion structure on Castle Creek, which will be used to siphon water for the hydro plant, and a minimum stream flow of 14 cfs in Maroon Creek below the diversion structure there.

The MOU, in trying to get at optimal stream health as opposed to minimum stream flows, also establishes a 10-year monitoring program. If macroinvertebrate population, fish population or biomass decreases, and they can be tied to hydro plant operations, the city will be required to take steps to reverse the damage to the creeks, including scaling back diversions, according to the MOU…

When Maureen Hirsch, who is one of eight plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed last month, suggested that permanent streamflow monitors be placed on the creek and that the monitoring go on for more than 10 years, Aspen Mayor Mick Ireland told her it would be very difficult to work with her and others who are suing the city.

“This is very hostile litigation,” Ireland said, holding up a copy of the complaint. “It’s very aggressive and divisive and I can’t say that I really appreciate it.”

More hydroelectric coverage here and here.

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