Mullen fire a potential threat to Cheyenne drinking water

Published: Sep. 23, 2020 at 12:08 AM CDT
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - As of Tuesday night (September 22nd) the Mullen fire has burned more than 14,000 acres in the Medicine Bow National Forest. It doubled in size over the course of a weekend, and fire officials believe it will continue to grow. Winds are predicted to pick up on Thursday, coming into the west, possibly pushing the fires east.

If that happens, Rob Roy reservoir will stand directly in its path.

“Rob Roy reservoir is a very critical infrastructure for the whole entire city of Cheyenne,” says Dena Egenhoff, Water Conservation and Public Relations for the Cheyenne Board of Public Utilities (BOPU), “Cheyenne gets fifty to seventy-five percent of its drinking water from this source."

Dena says the fire poses a potential threat to the reservoir and in turn Cheyenne’s drinking water. Ash, sediment and debris from the fire could be added to the water at the source.

“It could potentially damage dams clogged pipes can shrink our water capacity and shortage and it can also alter our whole entire water chemistry,” Dena tells Wyoming News Now, “Which makes it more of a challenge for us to be able to treat it.”

She adds that fire officials at the fire believe the fire shows signs it will grow around the Rob Roy Reservoir, but she also emphasizes that the potential for harm is just that: potential. It’s not a sure thing, and she says that Cheyenne has a robust water treatment facility. For now, she says the water is just fine.

“Our water is safe, it is fantastic quality and has not been impacted by the Mullen fire,” Egenhoff says “It is still high quality tap water.”

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