The high cost of climate change is already straining the budgets of Colorado towns
The Grizzly Creek fire still is smoldering, but Glenwood Springs is already contemplating the challenges it will leave behind: severe damage to the forest drainages the Western Slope city depends upon for its drinking water.
“We are concerned about a lot of mud and ash coming down the creek,” said Shelly Kaup, the city’s mayor pro tem. Sensors have been placed upstream to alert Glenwood when debris-laden water is headed toward the municipal intake pipes so they can be shut.
Plans are also already underway to buttress the city’s water system at a cost of $2.5 million to $4 million.
Communities across Colorado are facing similar problems linked to a changing climate, from forest fires to drought. They are also already spending money on solutions to address them.
It cost Summit County nearly $88,000 to dig out from under historic avalanches in 2019 and in Carbondale the year before, low stream flows imperiled the town’s water supply spurring a $600,000 water system upgrade.
The Colorado Sun is a reader-supported news organization dedicated to covering the people, places and policies that matter in Colorado. Read more, sign up for free newsletters and subscribe at coloradosun.com.