River health for Aspen’s Roaring Fork is question of funding — The Aspen Times #stormwater

Roaring Fork River back in the day

From The Aspen Times (Carolyn Sackariason):

Untreated, polluted water flowing into the Roaring Fork River in the heart of Aspen and failing underground storm water infrastructure has the municipal government looking for new revenue streams to put toward an underfunded clean river program.

The city has made progress with capturing and filtering runoff before it hits the Roaring Fork from the Aspen Mountain basin on the south side of the river, with catch basins and wetlands near the Rio Grande park and trail.

But on the north side of the river, where east end neighborhoods and homes on Red Mountain are located, untreated storm water runoff goes directly into the Roaring Fork.

That is one likely cause of why the state has put the Roaring Fork on its watch list of impaired waterways, said April Long, the city’s clean river program manager.

Long has been charged with finding new revenue sources to fund the storm water department and clean river program in which almost $19 million in capital projects have been identified.

Ramping up the program is a priority that Aspen City Council zeroed in on earlier this year as it learned it is woefully underfunded…

The main funding source for the clean river program now is a property tax passed by voters in 2007 and put in place in 2008. It generates about $1.2 million annually.

But with underground corrugated metal pipes that are more than 40 years old and are rusting out, replacing just a third of the infrastructure is anticipated to cost $4 million, according to Long…

City Engineer Trish Aragon noted it costs more to replace pipes in emergency situations, and getting out in front of it is a better use of taxpayer money…

The department has identified just under two dozen projects that would create a more robust clean river program and address some of the state’s concerns.

One of them that will get some preliminary attention next year is designing a catch basin on the north side of the river at Mill Street and Gibson Avenue, near the old powerhouse.

It would collect runoff from the east end residential complexes including Hunter Creek and Centennial and some of Red Mountain…

Long and Aragon are beginning to look at funding options based on what other municipalities do, as well as other research and brainstorming exercises.

The establishment of some type of fee, along with grants and creating special districts in neighborhoods where the infrastructure needs to be done are options on the table.

Long said she plans to bring funding options, along with prioritized projects with timeframe scenarios to council sometime next year.

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