From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):
The analysis, presented Wednesday by the Boulder-based consultancy Western Resource Advocates, determined that the amount of water pumped into the ground for drilling wells and for hydraulic fracturing to coax out oil and gas is between 22,100 and 39,500 acre-feet each year. That’s enough for up to 296,100 people — or to meet most needs in Douglas County. “We’re already having trouble meeting our demands. Especially in a dry year like this, if this water is going to go into oil and gas wells, there’s going to be a loser,” said engineer Laura Belanger, author of the study. “Where’s this water going to come from? Municipalities? Agriculture? Are we going to have to make new diversions from rivers on the Western Slope?”
State regulators have estimated that fracking requires 13,900 to 16,100 acre-feet a year. State officials and industry advocates compare this with total water consumed in Colorado and emphasize it is less than 1 percent — due to the huge amount used to produce food. But drilling’s share is growing rapidly and now exceeds water diverted for ski area snowmaking.
More coverage from Kirk Siegler writing for KUNC. From the article:
For perspective, according to the group, 20-40 thousand acre feet is similar to the amount of water consumed in a year in a city the size of Fort Collins.
“In dry years like this one, and overtime as our populations grow, fracking water use will compete with municipal use,” said Laura Belanger, the report’s author.
Some cities in booming Weld County have been leasing their excess water to fracking companies; a move that’s generated hundreds of thousands in revenue in some areas.