The arid climate and mountainous geography of Colorado interact with its demography resulting in both surpluses and deficiencies in water supply depending on location. Most of Colorado's water remains in agricultural use with about half being used to grow hay, but a small and growing portion of its water is devoted to domestic use in urban and suburban areas. A bit of water is used industrially.
Population growth in Colorado in occurring not only in Front Range urban areas such as Denver and Weld, Broomfield and Douglas Counties but also in favored foothill and mountain areas such as Archuleta, Mineral, Custer, Saguache, Park, Eagle, Garfield, Mesa, Montrose, and Ouray Counties. Much of the remainder of Colorado is stagnate or losing population as farming operations are consolidated.
Colorado is on the Continental divide of the United States and contains the headwaters of a number of rivers: in northern and northeastern Colorado, the South Platte River and the North Platte River which combine downstream to form the Platte River which eventually flows into the Missouri River, then into the Mississippi River; in northwestern Colorado, the Yampa River and the White River which flow downstream into the Green River, a tributary of the Colorado River; in western Colorado the mainstem of the Colorado River and the Gunnison River, a tributary of the Colorado; in southwestern Colorado, the San Juan River, the San Miguel River, and the Dolores River, tributaries of the Colorado River; in the San Luis Valley in southern Colorado, the Rio Grande; and, in southeastern Colorado, the Arkansas River, a tributary of the Mississippi.
Precipitation is greater on the western side of the Continental Divide while population is less and the topography is often mountainous, thus the tributaries of the Colorado rising there have substantial flow, some of which may not be fully used. On the other hand, the lands lying on the eastern side of the Continental Divide lie in the rain shadow of the Rocky Mountains and receive less moisture from the Pacific. They do receive some moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. The topography east of the Front Range is gentle and there is a substantial urban population as well as extensive agriculture. In this area of Colorado, uses for water exceed the supply. Transcontinental diversions partially address this imbalance, but are extremely controversial. The prospect of the development of oil shale resources in northwestern Colorado, in the watersheds of the Yampa and White rivers, poses another major problem of water administration. Oil shale development as of 2009 was in an experimental stage, but industrial development of the resource would require vast quantities of water. In anticipation of such development, Shell Oil, the major researcher in oil shale technology, filed in January, 2009 for a major water right on the Yampa River. The Yampa River is the sole remaining river in Colorado with unappropriated water. Front range urban interests also have an interest in that water.
Water quality problemsEdit
There are occasional failures in Colorado to adequately treat water particularly in the case of small or aged systems. The most spectacular failure was in Alamosa, Colorado where in 2998 the water system became contaminated with salmonella resulting in hundreds of persons falling ill and one person dying.
- ↑ Dolinger, David. Hazards in the water. The Denver Post. 2009-03-22. URL:http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_11968325. Accessed: 2009-03-22. (Archived by WebCite® at http://www.webcitation.org/5fTa5pps2) Please note that the short ("opaque") form of the WebCite® URL should be used only in addition to citing the original URL in your bibliographic reference. Alternatively, please use the "transparent" (but very long!) WebCite® URL: http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.denverpost.com%2Fnews%2Fci_11968325&date=2009-03-22
- ↑ Olinger, David. Tainted water still burdens town. The Denver Post. 2009-03-22. URL:http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_11968436. Accessed: 2009-03-22. (Archived by WebCite® at http://www.webcitation.org/5fTd2EPJS) Please note that the short ("opaque") form of the WebCite® URL should be used only in addition to citing the original URL in your bibliographic reference. Alternatively, please use the "transparent" (but very long!) WebCite® URL: http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.denverpost.com%2Fnews%2Fci_11968436&date=2009-03-22