Concerns about the uncertainties of global warming’s potential impacts on Aspen’s water supply topped residents’ fears over building dams as the City Council on Monday unanimously approved renewing water rights for Castle and Maroon creeks.

By a 5-0 vote, council members passed the resolution to extend the conditional water rights so they will essentially serve as an insurance policy should the city’s water supply erode and dams are needed in order to preserve and protect the supply.

Council members said they had to support the extension so that another entity doesn’t grab the water rights in the future, and also to be prepared for a worst-case scenario in the event that the supply deteriorates and cannot serve a population that could be as high as 17,500 fifty years from now. They also emphasized that building dams that could be as high as 155 feet would be a last resort.

“The question is not to build or not to build dams,” Mayor Steve Skadron said. “The issue is whether to keep the water rights … with the due diligence that is upon us.”

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