Colorado's water and energy resources are inextricably linked. At CWERC, we study the ways that water and energy resources often connect and sometimes collide. We seek to engage the general public and policy makers with our work, serving as a neutral clearinghouse of scientifically-based information on even the most contentious “energy-water nexus” debates.
Since we launched in 2011, public interest and pressing scientific questions have steered our attention toward the potential effects of Colorado’s natural gas boom on the quantity and quality of the state’s groundwater and surface water resources. Will the groundwater withdrawals associated with coalbed methane development change groundwater-surface water interactions in the San Juan Basin of southwestern Colorado? How far do certain organic compounds travel underground during the hydraulic fracturing of natural gas wells, and could they make for good tracers of fracturing fluids? How can water well owners best monitor the quality of their groundwater? Using the tools of hydrology, hydrogeology, and environmental chemistry, CWERC is tackling these unknowns and many more.
- Provide a neutral clearinghouse for scientifically-based information on important energy and water resources issues.
- Inform the general public and policy makers on energy and water resources issues.
- Facilitate the exchange of information and expertise among researchers and regulators working on energy and water resources problems.
- Pursue a sustainability-based research agenda on timely energy and water resources questions, and enable citizen science projects on relevant topics.
For a snapshot of CWERC at work, join Prof. Mark Williams as he discusses a variety of water security issues in Colorado and other western states in a recent CU on the Weekend course.