Colorado River Basin drying out faster than previously thought

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

What will our Fracker in Chief say about this?

Seven Western states that rely on the Colorado River Basin for valuable water are drawing more heavily from groundwater supplies than previously believed, a new study finds, the latest indication that an historic drought is threatening the region’s future access to water.

In the past nine years, the basin — which covers Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and California — has lost about 65 cubic kilometers of fresh water, nearly double the volume of the country’s largest reservoir, Lake Mead. That figure surprised the study’s authors, who used data from a NASA weather satellite to investigate groundwater supplies.

About two-thirds of the water lost over the past nine years came from underground water supplies, rather than surface water.

“We were shocked to see how much water was actually depleted underground,” Stephanie Castle, a water specialist at the University of California at Irvine and lead author of the report, said in an interview.

This water is critical for all aspects of life in the geological area.(No, I will not change my screen name to Captain Obvious.) Fracking, which our governor, a trained geologist, says is harmless, uses enormous amounts of water which in turn affects individuals' water wells. Discarded fracking fluids are now also beginning to affect water tables and aquifers around the nation.

Oh, and did I mention increased earthquake activity in fracking areas?

Here's a map of the Colorado River Basin by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation that is in the Post article:

The ease with which our Governor gives his support to the highly disruptive extraction of fossil fuels from our environment never ceases to amaze me. There are many negative aspects of the technology, yet he has remained firm in his support of Big Energy. Maybe this latest piece of evidence will finally catch his attention to the long-term harm fracking will do to Colorado's environment. 


About Zappatero

Just a guy with a keyboard trying to get CO’s Dems to support key Democratic and Progressive policies.

26 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

    Thanks for this post, Zap. Colorado has historically been a playground for O&G to do as they please. It was only during the tenure of Bill Ritter that the O&G industry didn't own the Governors' floor.

    There are so many ways we could better use the water that is being trashed and injected into the ground as toxic waste.

  2. ModeratusModeratus says:

    Wow, fracking fried out the West? Are you sure Mother Nature had nothing to do with that?

    • BlueCatBlueCat says:

      Regardless, does getting energy via technology that uses up huge quantities of irreplaceable water when we have other alternatives make long term sense? I mean considering we have no alternatives to water for, you know, survival of life on earth? That's actually my main obejection to continuing down the dead end road of depending on finite resources and techniques of extraction, such as fracking, that waste our most precious resources. I don't care if the fluid tastes like champaign and earthquakes are entirely unconnected.

    • VoyageurVoyageur says:

      moddy isn't entirely wrong.  West has huge underground reservoirs of brackish water useful fou fracking — and little else.  The jihad against fracking is irrational and hurts Democrats with moderate voters,


      • Curmudgeon says:

        jihad… that's cute. Let's see… one side is causing damage to the environment with chemicals they claim are safe, but refuse to identify…  and the people who don't like it are what…terrorists? 

        • VoyageurVoyageur says:


          you're not a terrorist, curmuddy, but do apprach this issue with unthinking religious fervor.  never a good plan.

          • Curmudgeon says:

            Fair enough. My emotions on this do tend to run high. But, you see, I live out here. I find it difficult to be aloof, uncaring, and oh so above it all when I see what fracking has done, and will do; not to mention the way the workers are ground up, spat out, and abandoned as soon as the companies feel there's a penny more to be made elsewhere. 

            By the way…how's your plan working out? 

            • ct says:

              Did everyone see the massive Halliburton screw up, fire, spill in Ohio, killed 75000 fish and Halliburton waited days to even tell regulators what the chemicals were.  How's that for an irrational jihad? 

              • notaskinnycooknotaskinnycook says:

                I've been saying this for years, ct. Every 26 million years or so, Mother Earth says "I'm gonna take a nap now. Y'all goona have to get out of my bedroom." And she freezes over. 

        • CaninesCanines says:

          Of course industry frack-hacks view opponents as terrorists. Jared Polis was just called a "terrorist" less than a week ago.

      • BlueCatBlueCat says:

        Well, Voyageur, Udall and Hick aren't on any jihad against fracking. Maybe standing against other Dems, who are almost all going to vote for them anyway, on this issue helps them with moderates.  Can't be accused of falling in line with the most liberal wing and all that.  Maybe they ought to be sending some of the anti-frackers thank you notes.

    • Fracking is only a small part of it, Mod.

      We also have human-caused climate change, the diversion of water from the basin for human uses (agricultural, direct human use, and vanity items like green grass in a desert), the overestimation of water availability used in the Colorado River compact, and yes, natural weather cycles.

      Humans are behind the vast majority of the change in the Colorado River basin.

      • gertie97 says:

        P Rising is right. The aquifer raids are by Californians who won't conserve, and their alleged leaders who won't put in public policies to force them too.

        The problem is too many folks, the world over. The earth will be fine. Whether the humans who live on it surive is another question.


        • ct says:

          And what damage we do on the way out.  

          Anyone who has not swallowed the fracking fluid, or who is not lucky enough to live where this activity is not happening and can afford to believe old has beens like the Roy and BillO show, nderstands that oil and gas devlopment is a highly industrial, dangerous, and toxic activity.  Non of this is in dispute, although it is regularly disputed by those paid to lie and their willfully ignorant transmitters.   Citizens and local communites have a right, responsibility, to have ral and meaningful inut into how, where and when this highly impactful industrial and polluting activity occurs.  We are going to get it.  If milquetoast Dem pols are collateral damage in citizens standing up for themselves, so be it.  


    • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

      It is typical of your smartass ways to create a straw man to make your argument. You insinuate that someone said hydraulic fracturing is solely responsible for the growing scarcity of fresh, clean, water. Of course, no one said that.

      That would not matter to a mendacious O&G toady, such as yourself. There are many factors in the water shortage that is rapidly becoming a crisis, including the poisoning of millions of gallons of water every day by the Oily Boys. Just because there are other contributing factors, does not obviate the impact of fracking on our water supply.

      I, for one, am unaware of the "huge underground reservoirs of brackish water" mentioned below by Voyageur. To my knowledge, only fresh water is suitable for drilling and fracking. I would be happy to be educated about the practice of using brackish water for fracking. If true, it is a step in the right direction.


      • VoyageurVoyageur says:

        USGS maps have long documented brackish water reserves,  And my oil and gas friends say that it can be used.  ofcourse, much still depends on location.

        • DavieDavie says:

          V'ger my old friend, I think the main point is that fresh water is a scarce commodity — wind and sunshine aren't.  

          Fracking is a short-term solution that will rapidly burn out in a few years (see CT's comments indicating the financial struggles due to the drilling treadmill they are on to keep the flow of O&G going as the wells give out after just a couple of years).

          In the competition for scarce resources, I'd favor other more beneficial uses (agricultural, wine, and your favorite — beer 😉 than adding to pollution via fracking that can't even recycle the billions of gallons they need.


        • How do those brackish reserves support the overall water table?

          • ZappateroZappatero says:

            "brackish reserves" sounds like a Frank Luntz talking point

            • ct says:

              It's from that big stash of the world's unecessary water.  

              Sure, oil and gas companies should prioritize using non-potable, and non-usable (irrigation grade) water… should.  Should.  To be clear: should doesn't mean much.  Some–like myself–would say that oil and gas companies should NOT be injecting industrial oil and gas waste into deep aquifers either…but that hasn't stopped them.  Polluting some, sucking up others–to frack them out of the hydrologcal cycle or turn them into waste (that needs injected or evaporated and landfilled)…

    • BlueCatBlueCat says:

      They really don't care about survival of even their own progeny, do they? Just goes to show how completely hypocritical their supposed devotion to every fertilized egg really is. Future fertilized eggs are welcome to grow up and good luck finding water.

  3. DavieDavie says:

    Maybe Fracking fluid has electrolytes?

  4. ZappateroZappatero says:

    Apologies for the typos – if you fix 'em the diary goes off the promo list somehow. 

    Thanks for understanding the point, BC, Duke, Phoenix, et al…… is the totality of actions we have been taking over time that has caused this depletion and will continue to affect the viability of the Colorado River and the millions of people who rely on it both within and without its basin.

    It appears dumbass Republicans who hate the environment will never be convinced by any evidence that we need to change our ways.

    I certainly hope the guv does….

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