Aspen City Council to Purchase Land for Possible Alternate Site for Water Storage


Aspen City Council to Purchase Land for Possible Alternate Site for Water Storage

Contact: Steve Barwick, City Manager, 970-920-5205 or

Aspen, Colorado - July 19, 2017 – The City of Aspen is in contract to buy two adjoining parcels of land in Woody Creek for $2.65 million to potentially use for water storage in the future.  The parcels are 1.805 acres and 61 acres on Raceway Drive. The impetus for the purchase is to seek a way to transfer decreed storage rights to locations other than the decreed locations on Castle Creek and Maroon Creek. Since 1965, the City has held decreed water storage rights at sites in Maroon and Castle Creek Valleys but the nature of these pristine locations has made it a priority for the City to first seek other ways to address potential water shortages and to seek alternate locations for water storage.

Currently, the City is completing its due diligence on the Woody Creek parcels, including conducting research on the environmental, hydrologic and geologic nature of the sites. Should the City elect to complete the land purchase, the City will begin the lengthy process to engineer the property for an excavated reservoir and/or below ground in-situ water storage.

With less than a day’s storage currently in place for the municipal water supply, it has long been a goal of the City to plan for a future that mitigates the risks of running out of potable water and untreated irrigation water, and drawing down the instream flows on Maroon and Castle Creeks.  

“Securing Aspen’s water future is an essential task of today’s City Council,” said Mayor Steven Skadron.  “It is Council’s responsibility to look out for the welfare, safety, and health of the community and we take that very seriously.  In addition, our commitment to protecting our environment is also a priority and this land purchase is a way to both protect the community and preserve Castle and Maroon Valley wild lands.”

The City is also working with Elam Construction, Inc., which owns the gravel pit next to the land it is purchasing, to jointly explore using that property in ways that will mutually benefit the City and Elam.  “We are interested in working with the City on its water storage project,” said Russell Larsen, COO of Elam Companies.  “There are benefits for both entities.  The City can assist us with reclamation of the property into the future and we are eager to explore ways we can support Aspen’s water storage needs.”

“The potential of this property for water storage in addition to other City owned parcels will help Aspen balance in-stream flows and water demand into the future,” said City Manager Steve Barwick.  “The solutions we are developing should meet the community’s long range environmental and water storage goals.”

Since the properties are located in Pitkin County, the City will be working in close partnership with the Pitkin County Commissioners to develop a successful solution for resilient water storage for the community.

Parcel numbers for the properties the City is under contract to purchase are 264316400046 and 264316100027 in the Pitkin County Assessor’s database.

Other alternatives for water storage are still being explored, including in-situ reservoirs at the Aspen Golf Course, Cozy Point Ranch, the portion of the City-owned Maroon Creek golf course, and other upper valley locations.  In addition, enhanced conservation, groundwater, reuse and partnerships with agricultural water users are other significant tools the City is developing to create a healthy and secure integrated water supply future for the City.

The City will further discuss the results of its risk assessment of Aspen’s integrated water system at a work session after its regular Council meeting on July 24, 2017 at approximately 6pm.


Posted on Wednesday, July 19, 2017