Examing Polluted Water Photo Credit: borchee (iStock).

File photo. Photo Credit: borchee (iStock).

Portions of the Poudre River are reportedly turning very dark brown and even black as springtime flow stays strong. While this may sound quite disturbing, there's a natural explanation – a wildfire.

Last fall, the Cameron Peak Fire burned 208,663 acres and destroyed 469 buildings in northern Colorado, leaving charred land in its wake. Now, thanks to springtime snowmelt amid hot temperatures and stormy weather, ash and debris is being carried downstream. It's thick enough at times that locals are reporting that some portions of the river had turned black in the Greeley area.

According to a report from KDVR, the "really ashy, really high-sediment" water is causing issues when it comes to water treatment, with Greeley Water and Sewer forced to tap into reservoir supplies with problems spiking in late May and slowly declining since.

See KDVR's report below, complete with video of the water and an explanation of what this means for water treatment:

It's fairly common for wildfires, especially those as large as the Cameron Peak Fire, to have lasting impacts. Not only can ash and debris get carried into local water supplies, destroyed forestland can result in flash flooding during rain, along with erosion and mudslides.

NEWSLETTER: Sign-up for the free OutThere Colorado newsletter here

Thankfully, large reservoirs present in northern Colorado ensure that locals have water that's clean enough to effectively be treated.

While some parts of Colorado are very dry right now, particularly in the west, northeast Colorado is at 144 percent of the to-date snow water equivalent median. There's sure to be quite a bit more run-off coming down from the mountains.

With more snowmelt on the way and springtime storms set to continue, more days of dirty water could be ahead.

NEWSLETTER: Sign-up for the free OutThere Colorado newsletter here

Director of Content and Operations

Spencer McKee is OutThere Colorado's Director of Content and Operations. In his spare time, Spencer loves to hike, rock climb, and trail run.


Get OutThere

Signup today for free and be the first to get notified on new updates.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.