Friday, April 26, 2013


State officials charged with promoting and regulating the energy industry estimated that fracking required about 13,900 acre-feet of water in 2010, about 0.08 percent of the total water consumed in Colorado. A Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission report projected water needs for fracking will increase to 18,700 acre-feet a year by 2015. Environmentalists point out that the water used by fracking gets lost from the hydrological cycle forever because it is contaminated.

Several projects in the state have proposed draining water out of Colorado rivers and siphoning the water to towns and cities that have been selling large quantities for fracking. Environmental advocates note that fracking in Colorado could negatively impact the state's rivers, as the process requires a significant amount of water.

As of 2012, water-intensive fracking projects includes:

· the Windy Gap Firming Project, which proposes to drain up to an additional 10 billion gallons of water out of the Upper Colorado River every year and pipe and pump that water to northern Front Range Colorado cities including Loveland, Longmont and Greeley -- three cities that have recently started selling water for fracking (Greeley sold over 500 million gallons in 2011).

· the Northern Integrated Supply Project, which proposes to drain an additional 13 billion gallons per year out of the Cache la Poudre River northwest of Fort Collins.

· the Seaman Reservoir Project by the City of Greeley on the North Fork of the Cache la Poudre River, which proposes to drain several thousand acre feet of water out of the North Fork and the mainstem of the Cache la Poudre.

Is fracking to blame?

· the Flaming Gorge Pipeline, which could reportedly take a large amount of water—up to 81 billion gallons—out of the Green and Colorado River systems every year and pipe and pump that water to the Front Range.

· the City of Denver has opened up drilling and fracking on its property at Denver International Airport, while Denver is also pushing forward with the Moffat Collection System Project, a proposal to drain water out of the Upper Colorado River and pipe it to Denver.

In March 2012 at Colorado's auction for unallocated water, companies that provide water for hydraulic fracturing at well sites were top bidders on supplies once claimed exclusively by farmers. The Northern Water Conservancy District runs the auction, offering excess water diverted from the Colorado River Basin — 25,000 acre-feet so far this year — and conveyed through a 13-mile tunnel under the Continental Divide. The average price paid for water at the auctions has subsequently increased from around $22 an acre-foot in 2010 to $28 in 2012. In June 2012, the town of Erie doubled its commercial water rate from $5.73 per 1,000 gallons to $11.46 per 1,000 gallons -- for oil and gas developers only.

About 98 percent of the state is experiencing varying levels of drought in 2012, according to the Colorado State University (CSU), with the most severe in the Arkansas Basin, where drought levels range from D1, or "moderate," to D3, or "extreme." The Texas drought from summer 2011 is also still affecting Colorado, CSU said.

An analysis by Environmental Working Group and The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX) found that at least 65 chemicals used by natural gas companies in Colorado are listed as hazardous under six major federal laws designed to protect Americans from toxic substances.

On July 9, 2012, the Aurora City Council in CO voted to "lease" water to Houston-based Anadarko Petroleum, which will use the water for hydraulic fracturing. Anadarko will pay the city $9.5 million over five years for access to almost 2.5 billion gallons of water.