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Oil Spill Soils Poudre River

‘Wild and scenic’ are words that are said with reverence.

In Fort Collins and Northern Colorado, the words wild and scenic have been put together for years to describe something that is very special to us–the Cache la Poudre River.

The Poudre is not without its dams. It doesn’t flow naturally the way it did 150 years ago, when Camp Collins was moved because of a devastating flood, to create Fort Collins.

But parts of it have been untouched. In today’s terms, the Poudre River is as wild and scenic as it gets. The purity of the Poudre has always been something special to me.

In Fort Collins, we are barely an hour away from the actual creation of a water source that is relied upon by millions of people. When the snow on Cameron Pass melts, that is a moment of magic, and people for miles around are alive because of it.

I like to imagine the cleanliness of the water as gravity pulls it through Poudre Canyon. The only way to get water that is cleaner than the water that feeds the Front Range of Northern Colorado is to go to Kinikinik.

Once the water hits the first plains of Bellvue and Laporte, it’s gone through some open range land, so there could be pollutants in it. Still, some cow manure aside, water in the Poudre is among the cleanest imaginable.

Contact with humans and livestock certainly degrade the crystal clarity of the flow as the river moves along flatter land, and that degradation is probably commensurate with the frequency of contact it has and the amount of pollutants that are put into it. So, the further down you go, the more the pollution levels rise. The water in the Poudre in Greeley is different from the water in the aforementioned Kinkinik. However, with grateful Northern Colorado residents taking care of it, I would like to imagine that the water still has a high quality through Greeley and beyond.

That is, I would have imagined that, until the oil spill.

On June 20, Noble Energy reported an oil spill on the banks of the Poudre River in Windsor. Apparently a storage tank was situated on a bank that was eroded by floods, and a valve broke, dumping 7,500 gallons of crude oil into the river.

According to the Coloradoan, the tank that leaked was placed more than 300 feet from the river, per regulation, but that seasonal floods reached further than that safety barrier.

Oil spills are bad. Very, very bad.

I was very deeply saddened to learn that this had happened.

 

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