Naturally Degraded Water

Nature is a major polluter

Red Mountain in the Grizzly Peak Caldera feeds acid waters into the South Fork of Lake Creek.

Red Mountain in the Grizzly Peak Caldera feeds acid waters into the South Fork of Lake Creek.

Humans are major polluters of the waters of the globe. However, natural groundwater movement also causes significant water contamination globally — including salts, acids, radioactivity, nitrogen, and metals (arsenic, selenium, zinc, lead, iron and manganese). As we attempt to regulate and clean up human pollution of water, it is important to recognize natural water pollution sources in a particular area. Understanding the geology of an area is important to aid in recognizing potential natural sources of water pollution. A report on natural groundwater contamination near a proposed in-situ uranium mine in Weld County is available in IS-12 Hydrogeologic and Stratigraphic Data Pertinent to Uranium Mining, Cheyenne Basin, Colorado.

Water wells with high levels of dissolved uranium.

An award-winning CGS study, titled B-54 Natural Acid Rock Drainage Associated with Hydrothermally Altered Terrane in Colorado, identifies geology as the culprit for poor water quality in parts of Colorado. The study identifies a number of streams in eleven different head water areas of Colorado where surface water is acidic and has high concentrations of metals upstream of any significant human impacts.

Map showing the areas that naturally create acid waters.