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What goes wrong


faulty cementing
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property values
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toxic waste
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What can be done?
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A new study by the Colorado Geological Survey and U.S. Geological Survey shows the Denver aquifers are thinner and less tributary than previously thought.

"This study is alarming because what we believed about aquifers for the last 20, 30, 40 years has been shattered," State Representative Marsha Looper, R-Calhan, told the Arkansas Basin Roundtable in November 2011 . "The study of the geology showed the reservoirs are not as thick and deep as we thought."

According to the 2011 Groundwater availability of the Denver Basin aquifer system, Colorado:
U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper
, g roundwater storage is being depleted in the Denver Basin, and the present level of pumping is not considered sustainable over the next 50 years, especially in the south Denver metropolitan area. Over the past 20 years, pumping from the confined aquifers has lowered hydraulic heads at rates of as much as 30 ft/yr. As the head in the aquifer is lowered, larger pumps are needed to move water to the surface, increasing energy use and pumping costs. R enewable water supplies will be needed in the future.

"The Denver Basin aquifers are a critical, but declining, drinking water resource for tens of thousands of residents along the Front Range in Colorado," said Anne Castle, Assistant Secretary for Water and Science at the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Colorado already has more than 45,000 oil and gas wells. Last year, 6,000 new permits were issued and 2,500 wells were drilled. Nearly all Colorado wells involve hydraulic fracturing, and new wells on Colorado's plains are being planned in areas where there is not an abundant water supply.

People on the eastern plains of Colorado rely almost exclusively on alluvial and bedrock aquifers for their water.

Water in aquifers

We all know Colorado's climate is semiarid. Potential annual evaporation is nearly five times larger than annual precipitation. Most precipitation is lost to streams, evaporation, and vegetation. Only a small portion replenishes the aquifers.

Streams in the southern part of the Denver basin recharge it. Precipitation percolates through permeable soils deep into the aquifers. Water can move into deeper parts of the aquifer and discharge many miles away. Water also travels between the aquifers.

Groundwater is an important resource in Colorado

Nineteen counties of Colorado’s 63 counties rely solely on groundwater for drinking water and domestic uses.

A pproximately ninety-six percent (96%) of the groundwater produced is consumed by agriculture. Colorado has over 3,200,00 acres of irrigated cropland.

As the population of the state continues to grow at an unprecedented rate, the number of people dependent on groundwater is also increasing.

How the West's Energy Boom Could Threaten Drinking Water for 1 in 12 Americans

"Without (the Colorado River), there is no Western United States," said Jim Baca, who directed the Bureau of Land Management in the Clinton administration. "If it becomes unusable, you move the entire Western United States out of any sort of economic position for growth."

Oil and natural gas drilling in Colorado already require so much water that if its annual demand were satisfied all at once, it would be the equivalent of shutting off most of Southern California's water for five days.

Counties across the Western states are apportioned a limited quota of water rights that can be used for industry, farming, or municipal use. Using Colorado River water means less water for urban growth, agriculture and personal use. It means trading fresh fruit and vegetables -- not to mention green lawns -- for energy.

Oil and gas drilling is a major concern for the Colorado River. Water pollution, and the use of water , place extraordinary demands on Colorado River and the ecosystems surrounding it.

Where will the millions of gallons of water needed for fracking come from?

COGCC states that water used for hydraulic fracturing must come from a legal source. It can be purchased or leased from a municipality, just as other industries do. An agricultural water right can be temporarily changed to industrial use so that an operator can lease or purchase water from a rancher or farmer. Water that is “fully consumed” such as treated waste water from a municipality can be leased or purchased, or Denver Basin “non-tributary” water can be purchased from the landowner.


Lawmaker alarmed at aquifer report

New Study Lends Insight to Decreasing Denver Basin Groundwater Availability Released: 12/28/2011

Groundwater Availability of the Denver Basin Aquifer System, Colorado

Colorado Groundwater Conditions coloradogroundwaterconditions.pdf

How the West's Energy Boom Could Threaten Drinking Water for 1 in 12 Americans

Save the Colorado

Hydrogeology of the Denver Basin

COGCC Response to STRONGER Questionnaire, June 2011


Groundwater atlas of U.S. Colorado - illustrations

map of aquifers in Denver Basin

Falcon/Peyton master plan