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Will Fracking Destroy Colorado’s Rivers?

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Colorado News page and our Environment and Climate Resource Center page.
Oil and gas drilling and fracking pose extraordinary threats to Colorado's Denver metro and Front Range cities including to air quality, water quality in streams and groundwater, wildlife habitat, private property rights and landscape health. These impacts are generally similar wherever drilling and fracking occurs across the U.S.

But what makes drilling and fracking unique in Colorado-and especially across Colorado's Front Range from Fort Collins to Pueblo-is its threat to Colorado's rivers.

Why? Drilling and fracking use a lot of water, and water is already in short supply along the Front Range. In fact, many fast-growing Colorado cities predict they will have a shortage of water in the next decade and are already proposing new water supply projects that will further drain Colorado's already severely degraded rivers. And, the very same cities that are proposing new water projects are also selling increasing amounts of water for fracking.

First, the Windy Gap Firming Project proposes to drain up to an additional 30,000 acre feet (nearly 10 billion gallons) of water out of the severely degraded Upper Colorado River every year and pipe and pump that water to northern Front Range Colorado cities including Loveland, Longmont and Greeley. At the very same time, those same three cities have recently started selling water for fracking, and Greeley has started selling large quantities for fracking-over 1,500 acre feet (500 million gallons) in 2011 and climbing. The Upper Colorado already has 60 percent of its water drained out and has severe problems with water quality and water temperature such that fish and aquatic insects are on the brink of survival. 


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