Colorado’s snowpack is nearing the lowest it’s been in decades. The mild winter is bad news for powder skiers and snow-dependent businesses in the state. It’s also a concern for millions of people across the Southwest who depend on melting snow for their drinking water and farms.
Northern Colorado’s largest water provider is proposing new regulations governing the use of its water to hydraulically fracture oil and gas wells. The move comes as many cities and towns in the area have been leasing water to energy companies for fracking.
Colorado’s Yampa River is one of the last-free flowing rivers in the West and its water has long been eyed by the oil shale industry and by water agencies looking for new sources to tap to feed communities and farms hundreds of miles away. But recently Shell Oil shelved an application to divert water from the Yampa for mining, and a powerful Front Range water utility has put its interest in the Yampa on hold. This has environmentalists looking to seize the moment and drum up support to protect the river.
Officials with the agency that provides water to scores of cities and farms in northeastern Colorado say they’re close to announcing an agreement that seeks to ease long-standing tensions between water users on the Front Range and the western slope. The pending agreement is expected to be similar to one recently announced by Denver Water.
A project that would divert Poudre River water into two reservoirs could hurt Northern Colorado agriculture. That’s according to a newly released report by the nonprofit Save the Poudre. But as at least one group is challenging the findings.