The amount of rain and snow we receive, snow and ice removal from our roadways, trans-mountain diversions to the Eastern Slope, and runoff from paved areas and irrigation all raise questions concerning water quality and water quantity in Pitkin County. While we enjoy relatively high quality water in Pitkin County, there are always improvements to be made. Keep in mind that even the cleanest water has probably fallen through air pollution, run across a road or through a culvert, possibly trickled across a horse or cow pasture, or maybe someone's fertilized lawn before even reaching the stream. Your public water providers work hard at getting most of the contaminants out of your drinking water before it fills your glass. If you are on a well, you may be counting on the soil to do your filtering for you.
In addition to drinking water concerns and human health impacts from pollution, local fish populations and all other natural systems (wetlands, riparian areas, and wildlife) depend on water for survival. Depending on the amounts and effects of differing pollutants, degraded water quality can have quick and long-lasting impacts on the health of our County. There are many local, state and federal entities that manage land use activities in our County, and others that monitor, restore, and research the impacts of man's activities on the water resources of the Roaring Fork Watershed.
State of Colorado Water Quality Control Commission
The Colorado Water Quality Control Commission is the administrative agency responsible for developing specific state water quality policies, in a manner that implements the broader policies set forth by the Legislature in the Colorado Water Quality Control Act. The Commission adopts water quality classifications and standards for surface and ground waters of the state, as well as regulations aimed at achieving compliance with those classifications and standards.
Colorado Division of Water Resources
The Colorado Division of Water Resources (Office of the State Engineer) is an agency within the Department of Natural Resources providing administration of Colorado's water resources to meet the demands of today, and to provide for the needs of tomorrow. The agency works on basin of origin issues, issues involving federally-reserved water rights, wetlands and endangered species recovery, as well as interstate water issues.
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Water Resources Division
The USGS has been studying our nation's water resources for the last century. Their webpage can give you historical, periodic, and real-time information on many of the streams and rivers in the United States. They also have many water related studies and reports available for viewing.
Water Quantity/Quality Studies Being Carried Out in the Roaring Fork Watershed
Pitkin County and many other entities have been involved in a project with the USGS Water Resources Division in Grand Junction to take an historical look at water quality in the Roaring Fork Watershed. This project is ongoing and current information can be viewed at the link above.
Geographic Information System for Groundwater Supply Analysis
Pitkin County contracted with a Golden, CO based consulting firm to develop a geology and water resources GIS database for portions of Pitkin County. This tool will help decision makers in Pitkin County evaluate our limited water resources and the potential impacts to our surface and ground waters as development continues in the County. Please contact our office for more information regarding this tool.
For close to ten years, the Roaring Fork Conservancy's Research Program has collected biological data, tracked streamflow issues and water quality conditions, and identified critical river corridor areas in need of protection.
The Roaring Fork Conservancy is performing Valley-wide water quality testing and analysis on a monthly basis at over 20 sites. Part of the Colorado Division of Wildlife's River Watch Program
, the Roaring Fork Conservancy's volunteer and student-collected data contributes to state-wide water quality data.
The Nature Conservancy Colorado River Project
Given the serious water challenges facing the state, The Nature Conservancy has launched The Colorado River Project. Through this important new project, The Nature Conservancy will work collaboratively with Western Slope communities-particularly those in the Eagle and Roaring Fork River Valleys-to conserve their globally significant ecological resources.