Pitkin County wants to protect water | VailDaily.com

Pitkin County wants to protect water

John Colson
Aspen Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado

ASPEN, Colorado ” Should Pitkin County start collecting a special tax to ensure there is enough water to go around no matter what happens, as far as future conflicts over water rights are concerned?

At least a partial answer to that question is expected on June 3, when the Board of County Commissioners will be briefed on the results of a survey of county residents regarding water and other issues.

The county has been toying with the idea of establishing a 0.1 percent sales tax increase to raise roughly $1 million annually for a “water fund,” and included questions on the subject in a recently-conducted telephone survey.

One reason for the county’s interest is that unappropriated or underused water rights in the Roaring Fork and Colorado rivers are coveted by water authorities in Colorado Springs and Pueblo, county officials maintained this week.

And one local water expert noted that drastic measures may be required to ensure future water supplies for the Roaring Fork Valley, such as damming creeks and rivers and creating new reservoirs, if there is any truth to warnings about future ‘water wars’ in The West.

Gary Beach, manager of the Salvation Ditch Company, a local water supplier, said the county should come up with more innovative ways of dealing with those prospects than simply buying more water rights, which might not be worth much against other, senior rights.

“There’s been lots of talk of a reservoir further up Independence Pass, for instance,” he said.

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