LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. — The Hewlett Fire burned more than 7,000 acres north of Fort Collins before it was contained May 22nd.
Now the ash from the burn area is threatening the quality of the drinking water in northern Colorado.
At issue is the threat to the water running through the Hewlett fire burn area. Ash from the fire’s remains could seep into the Poudre River that feeds directly into the water supply.
“Now there’s not enough vegetation in the ground to keep the soil from moving,” says Reghan Cloudman with the Canon Lakes Ranger District.
“There may be and will likely be an increase in ash and sedimentation into those water sources,” she says.
Erosion is threatening to push the ash into the Pouder River and into the water supply, directly affecting the quality of the drinking water in both Fort Collins and Greeley.
“When the rain comes down it can wash the ash and sediment off the slopes down into the drainage, reserves or stream that feeds into the water sources,” Cloudman says.
The fallout could cause issues with the city’s water facilities for up to three years if they don’t manage it.
“Some of the things they are proposing are area mulching to help hold the soil in place,” Cloudman continues.
Fort Collins Utilities can also blend water from other sources to improve the quality. Now city officials have to monitor the water quality until the sediment runs its course.
Forrest officials are also warning hikers in the burn area to stay on the trails and obey all warning signs posted in the area. They say loose rock and burned trees could put hikers at risk.