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Aspen, Pitkin County test Roaring Fork River after discoloration

Aug 13, 2015

Credit Twitter @IamMBB

On Thursday, City of Aspen and Pitkin County staff took water and sediment samples at Grizzly Reservoir following discoloration of the Roaring Fork River. The work follows concerns from elected leaders.

The crystal clear water turned brown early this week after a dam problem forced the release of muddy water from Grizzly Reservoir. Between 10 and 20 acre feet flowed from Lincoln Creek into the Roaring Fork River.

The county commissioners were concerned about the water’s impact on fish and the local economy. Commissioner Patti Clapper wants better communication prior to such a release.

"I walked the river this morning (Wed.) and I can’t tell you how many visitors stopped me and said, ‘Is this the Animas River?’ and ‘Can I go in the river or is it toxic?’ We should have had a head’s up on this.”

Scott Campbell is general manager for Twin Lakes Reservoir and Canal Company that operates the reservoir. He admits he failed to adequately communicate the release.

"I should have made more notification downstream to let folks know that that was coming, especially in light of what’s happened on other rivers in the state recently."

The water flowing from the dam included sediment from runoff collected since the early 1990s. Campbell estimates that’s the last time the reservoir was drained.