Rifle boasts many beautiful water sources like Rifle Falls and Rifle Gap. Rifle Falls was the water source for the first hydroelectric power plant in Rifle. Rifle Gap was once ranchland but became an irrigation reservoir in the late 1960s. While these parks have pristine looking water, this is not the same water we pull from our taps.
The City of Rifle has enough water to serve more than double its current number of residents, thanks to their securing of strong water rights in nearby areas. Residents in Rifle either have a private well, a community well, or municipal water. The primary municipal water source is the Colorado River. A small amount of municipal water in Rifle may come from Beaver Creek and several irrigation ditches throughout the area.
Water in Rifle has many potential sources of contamination: oil and gas operations, areas protected by the EPA such as superfund sites or chemical storage sites, wastewater discharge centers, mining discharge, agricultural runoff, forestry, transportation, and wildfires. This article by Colorado State University describes in detail how these types of human activities can increase the levels of pollution and contamination of water sources.
The watershed for Rifle and surrounding communities were impacted by the series of wildfires in 2020. Physical and chemical changes to soil in burn scar areas increase levels of erosion, and therefore heighten the chance of flooding and sediment delivery to downstream areas. As water travels over the surface of the land or through the ground, it dissolves naturally occurring minerals, and in some cases, toxic or radioactive material. Water can pick up substances resulting from the presence of animal or human activity. Changes to water quality downstream of burned areas include high amounts of nutrients, salts, trace metals, and suspended sediment. Additional impacts may result from fire retardants.
While some of these contaminants have an obvious presence in your water, others are tasteless, odorless, and colorless. With this in mind, it’s extremely important to regularly test your water, as this is the only way to guarantee these harmful chemicals pose no threat to you.
Bacteria, or microbial contaminants, may come from sewage treatment plants, septic systems, wildlife, or agricultural operations. Heavy metals may be naturally occurring, but may also result from urban storm water runoff, wastewater discharges, oil and gas production, mining, or farming. Radioactive compounds, synthetic or volatile compounds, pesticides, and herbicides are also found in water due to many of the aforementioned practices.
The Bookcliffs formation in West Rifle has the richest concentration of oil shale in the world, even more concentrated than the Middle East! As a hub for energy exploration, Rifle has several oil and gas related industries in the area. However, none of which are regulated by Garfield County. To find out if your water has been contaminated, contact Aspen WaterWise. If any impurities are found, Aspen WaterWise will create a personalized treatment plan that exceeds your expectations.
Three contaminants of concern in Rifle are molybdenum, nitrate, and uranium. These toxic substances enter the water via seepage from tailings piles and raffinate ponds from industrial operations and pose serious threats to residents and livestock. These contaminants were detected at such alarming levels that the Department of Energy had to compensate some residents with new water lines and reverse osmosis (RO) systems. RO systems remove nearly 100% of contaminants from a single faucet. This type of system is one of Aspen WaterWise’s many specialties – not only do we service RO systems, we also offer three types of residential and commercial ROs for installation. Our treatment systems are made in America with the highest quality components. You can use this link to learn more about our line of ROs and other water treatment products. If you are or someone you know is vulnerable to water contamination, contact Aspen WaterWise to schedule a consultation today.