Protecting Colorado’s groundwater

By Ken Carlson, CSU Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor

When it comes to fracking and oil and natural gas development, Colorado’s water regulations are a national model.

Colorado has a mandatory groundwater monitoring program and was the first state to require water sampling before and after the fracking process. To top it off, we have some of the strictest oil and natural gas spill reporting requirements in the country.

But how do we know if Colorado’s oil and natural gas regulations actually protect our water?

As a civil and environmental engineering professor at Colorado State University (CSU), I can proudly tell you we’ve developed a groundwater monitoring tool to answer this very question. Here’s how it works:

CSU is responsible for installing monitoring equipment in oil and natural gas wells, 95 percent of which are fracked, and then we track and collect the data. Our groundwater monitoring pilot program measures water quality in real-time and we post results online so that you can track water quality in your town, 24-hours a day.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) confirms that fracking doesn’t cause “widespread, systemic” water contamination. This new tool, combined with our existing water regulations, allows Coloradans to be certain that our water supply remains safe throughout the entire oil and natural gas development process.


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