Officials warn of water pollution as Colorado wildfires rage

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DENVER (KDVR) — State and local officials are sounding the alarm on water pollution and potential long-term impacts to water caused by ongoing wildfires. As wildfires rage, vegetation and soil are scorched and ash is pushed into Colorado rivers and streams.

“A lot of that ash will get into the water and can change the pH levels,” said Jason Clay with Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Clay says that pollution can lead to dead fish at various Colorado fisheries.

“We’ll have to see down the road what impacts we may have for our fisheries,” he said.

Reservoirs could sustain considerable harm, according to water resource officials.

“This can create all kinds of impacts for reservoirs and for our treatment,” said Adam Jokerst, deputy director of water resources, with Greeley Water and Sewer.

Jokerst says that half of Greeley’s water supply comes from the Poudre River. That river and watershed provide water for much of Northern Colorado and is being polluted by the massive Cameron Peak Fire. The particles in the water are making it more challenging to treat water that is sent to homes and businesses.

“Our customers should not see any impacts,” Jokerst stressed. “They’ll continue to get clean drinking water.”

Even though dirty water will not be coming out of taps, the wildfire pollution could lead to millions of dollars in costs to mitigate and years of work. Officials aren’t yet sure when the real impact on water will be realized.

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