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Posted on: October 21, 2020

City of Aspen Seeks Input on 50-Year Water Plan

PRESS RELEASE

City of Aspen Seeks Input on 50-Year Water Plan
Community input will help shape long-term plan for this shared resource

Contact: Steve Hunter, Utilities Resource Manager, City of Aspen Water Department, 970-970.309.5657 or steve.hunter@cityofaspen.com and John Rehring, Carollo Engineers, Senior Client Services Manager & Vice President, 303-404-6309

Aspen, CO – October 21, 2020 – The City of Aspen’s Water Utility is undertaking a strategic planning process to provide a long-term reliable and sustainable water supply for the community. The water planning process, also referred to as Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) is a holistic approach to the management of water systems that combines supply, demand, quality, environmental protection and enhancement, financial planning, and public engagement. With climate change, a growing year-round population, increasing risk of wildfire and drought, and little water storage, it is essential for the City to actively plan and implement tactics for a safe and reliable water supply. In addition, the 50-year plan will help build on the community's water conservation successes, optimize use of the City’s current water rights, and provide direction on conditional water rights the City holds.

“This is a critically important project that allows us to put plans in place to leave the same vibrant and resilient community resource we enjoy now for future generations,” said Tyler Christoff, Director of Aspen Utilities. “We began the initial assessment of our water system last year and are excited to be engaging the public in the plan’s development. The input from stakeholders and community as far as their values and priorities will be significant for the City as we move forward to provide water service through 2070 and beyond. While the plan is for 50 years, it will establish guidelines that will help us plan for our needs even further into the future and will be a benchmark document that guides how the community utilizes and protects this resource long into the future.”

The development of the water plan will provide direction for the City to implement and manage a resilient long-term water resource portfolio.

“The IRP process will help us characterize our existing and future water supplies and demands.” said Steve Hunter, Utilities Resource Manager for the Water Department. “The IRP process also has an element that allows the City to evaluate risks to our water supply system now and in the future. We can then prioritize improvements in infrastructure, demand, conservation, and storage to ensure a resilient water supply. I look forward to the in-depth planning that will take place during this transparent and inclusive process.”

The community is invited to participate in a public engagement meeting that will include a presentation and discussion groups on October 28 from 5-6:30 p.m. on the Zoom platform. More information and registration is available at www.aspencommunityvoice.com.

For those who cannot attend the Zoom community meeting, comments may be added to Aspen Community Voice starting immediately.

Fifteen stakeholders have already been engaged with in-depth interviews about their values and questions around Aspen’s water including those from the business, environmental, recreation, faith, medical, and non-profit fields.

The City is working with Carollo Engineers, a water engineering firm and Ross Strategic on the water planning process.

"Water projects can take many years to plan, permit, design, and implement, so it's critical to take a long-range view of future water needs and how to meet them in a way that truly reflects the community's values," said John Rehring, Carollo's project manager.

The final report for the water plan is expected by mid-2021. Anticipated IRP elements and outcomes include:
• Recommendations to increase reliability
• Balanced approach for supply & demand management
• Holistic and comprehensive alternatives analysis
• Adaptation and mitigation strategies
• Alignment with community values
• Pathway for management & investment decisions

There will be a total of three engagement sessions in the planning process: October 28, 2020 and then again in mid-January and early March.


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