Groundwater is an important source of water in dry Colorado – but it presents its own challenges and requires its own set of rules. Good management is critical.
Most of it Lies Between a Rock…and Another Rock
In semi-arid Colorado, we maintain a delicate balance between water supply and demand. As population increases, more and more claims are put on Colorado’s available surface water – rivers, streams, and lakes. In years of drought, these resources are especially strained. Increasing use of groundwater may seem like a logical alternative to these stretched resources. But Colorado’s groundwater presents its own challenges, which require thoughtful management and creative solutions.
Groundwater does not exist as underground lakes, streams, and veins. Most groundwater is located in very small spaces between rocks, or in narrow fractures and cracks. This water must be extracted from deep below the surface. But getting the water is not the only difficulty.
Groundwater requires recharge – water from the surface must make its way down through layers of soil and rock to the aquifer. Without recharge, humans can drain away all the groundwater.
Groundwater poses two huge challenges to Colorado’s water users:
1. Some of the groundwater is connected to surface water, and using groundwater can deplete the surface streams. These depletions affect the rights holders of those streams.
2. Some groundwater took so long to accumulate that it is essentially non-renewable – if we drain all the groundwater, we will have none left.
Click the Fluent Water Facts above to learn more about Colorado’s groundwater and the challenges it poses.
CFWE Groundwater Resources
Guide to Denver Basin Groundwater explores the geology and hydrology of the Denver Basin underground water resource, the legal framework developed for its administration and management, the current development of the resource, as well as its limitations and sustainability with particular focus on the South Denver Metro Area. Take a look.
Support for the Colorado Foundation for Water Education is tax-deductible and provides numerous benefits, including discounts on publications and event registrations. Your membership supports development of new publications, outreach efforts across the state, and critical operational needs.