When the well's dry, we know the worth of water : groundwater mining in Douglas County, Colorado
Lucking, Carol Hutton
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Fiege, MarkThe 1980s and 1990s saw a huge population explosion in the Denver metropolitan area. In the search for a long term water supply, the Denver Water Board proposed building a massive 1.1 million acre foot dam and reservoir on the South Platte River. Opponents of the project argued that it was unnecessary – conservation was needed before such a radical building project. Additionally, the area that would have been inundated was billed as a unique recreation spot in the state of Colorado. Supporters of the Two Forks Project felt it was necessary for the continued growth of the Front Range, and they worried that without Two Forks, the Front Range community would be forced to rely on non-renewable groundwater and purchasing water from agricultural communities on the plains. Now, more than twenty years after William Reilly of the Environmental Protection Agency rejected the Two Forks Project, Douglas County, a large suburban community south of Denver is on the brink of a water disaster as they rely almost exclusively on water from the nonrenewable Arapahoe Aquifer. This aquifer is being drawn down at an estimated thirty feet per year. Yet because the water source is invisible, people are mining it with little understanding of the consequences. Ultimately, the residents of Douglas County will need another water source – a renewable source.