The city of Aspen took its first legal steps Monday to preserve its water rights to build dams on both Castle and Maroon creeks, setting off a fire storm of criticism from at least two conservation groups.

The filings were made with the District 5 Water Court and came after City Council voted 5-0 on Oct. 10 to proceed with the extension, which if granted, could result in the construction of two reservoirs on the pristine creeks. The city claimed the water rights in November 1971.

The city’s concern over a growing population, combined with climate change’s impacts on the two creeks, which supply drinking water to residents, was the chief impetus to register two documents called “applications for finding of reasonable diligence” with the water court.

“These warmer days demonstrate that local snowpack, the primary source of the city’s water supply, is threatened,” the filings said.

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