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Colorado farmers lose out to fracking companies at water auction

Amy Mall

Posted April 1, 2012 in Health and the Environment, Living Sustainably, Saving Wildlife and Wild Places

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There's a very important story in today's Denver Post. According to the Post: "At Colorado's premier auction for unallocated water this spring, companies that provide water for hydraulic fracturing at well sites were top bidders on supplies once claimed exclusively by farmers."

Colorado water expert Gary Wockner makes the point that this is doubly disconcerting because water first used for agriculture remains in the hydrological cycle and can recharge aquifers or feed streams. Water used for fracking, however, because it is contaminated, is generally withdrawn completely from the hydrological cycle.

Colorado is known for exceptional fresh produce, but family farmers are already having a tough enough time making ends meet. If they can't afford the water they need to grow food, and more of them go out of business, what will that mean for the availability of fresh local food?

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Comments

Les RogersApr 2 2012 10:36 AM

This type of drilling needs to be completely outlawed. Plain and simple. A highly toxic chemical mixture of compressed gasses like nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and sand containing radioactive minerals is used to force the extraction of petroleum and natural gases. This contaminates the aquifer permanently eliminating the ability to obtain drinkable water from the aquifers in that region. It also is not known how far the fissures that are created by the process go and how far and deep the contamination is.

DENCOApr 2 2012 11:42 AM

CH4 + 2 O2 → CO2 + 2 H2O + energy
There is a net gain of water into the water cycle. H2O is a by produce of combustion of the oil and gas that is produced from these wells. Mansanto would be proud. As you know, water that goes back into the water cycle from agriculture is often very contaminated. Big agriculture is no friend to the environment. I am pretty sure the high dollar fresh produce crops can compete economically.

Gary WocknerApr 2 2012 12:12 PM

DENCO -- you are not correct. The vast majority of water used in drilling and fracking is poisoned beyond use and either left in the well hole, evaporated at the surface in open pits, or transferred to deep injection wells where it stays forever. Called "produced water' and "flowback," this water does not return to the hydrological cycle.

Amy MallApr 2 2012 01:15 PM

DENCO: NRDC agrees that the agricultural industry presents grave threats to our groundwater. We are working to clean up that industry also. For more information, check out my colleague Jonthan Kaplan's recent blog post on the topic:
http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/jkaplan/gigatons_of_fertilizer_bypass.html

B CzarneckiApr 7 2012 08:44 AM

There are solutions to this issue of extended water use and chemical usage with fracking that does not seem to have surfaced.

Check out the process used by the company "Echosphere Technologies" (stock ticker ESPH). It is a chemical free process that processes 3,300 gallons per minute.

Reference: http://www.ecospheretech.com/?gclid=CNfvxP_goq8CFSQCQAodFBylaQ

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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