City plans to improve Roaring Fork River health

Apr 26, 2017

Rio Grande Park is part of Aspen's stormwater management system; now the city looks to improve the health of the Roaring Fork River through other projects.
Credit Elizabeth Stewart-Severy/Aspen Public Radio News

The Roaring Fork River running through Aspen is not as healthy as the city or the state think it should be, and now is the time for action.  

The Roaring Fork has been on Colorado’s impaired rivers list for five years, and the City of Aspen is working with Pitkin County to put together a plan to improve its health.

“This stretch of river through the city of Aspen is the most threatened stretch in the entire river,” said April Long, who heads up Aspen’s Clean River Program.

A variety of factors may be contributing to the Roaring Fork’s degrading health. Water is pulled out of the river through a transbasin diversion, and lawns have replaced natural river bank in many areas. Plus, stormwater from the city core contributes pollutants.

Long and the city of Aspen have been working for years on improved stormwater systems, and now staff is looking at other projects to improve water quality.

The city and county are working together to develop a river management plan, and Long said public involvement is critical. There will be an open house Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Old Powerhouse Property in Aspen.