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State Water Agencies and External Water Quality Resources


State water agencies

  • Several Colorado agencies are involved with issues relating to water.
  • In general, the agencies associated with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are more involved with water quantity management, while the agencies associated with the Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) are more involved with water quality management.

Department of Natural Resources

Colorado Water Conservation Board
  • Executive branch agency responsible for state water policy and planning.
  • Promotes the protection, conservation and development of water resources and minimizing the risk of flood damage.
  • Major programs include:
    • Water Supply Protection.
    • Water Supply Planning and Finance.
    • Conservation and Drought Planning.
    • Flood Protection.
    • Instream Flow and Natural Lake Protection.
    • Water Information.

Operates under the direction of a 15-member board composed of:

  • Representatives from eight major river basins.
  • A representative from the city and county of Denver.
  • The Division of Natural Resources executive director.
  • The commissioner of agriculture.
  • The attorney general.
  • The state engineer.
  • The Division of Wildlife director.
  • The Colorado Water Conservation Board director.
Division of Water Resources
  • Administers and enforces all surface and groundwater rights.
  • Issues water well permits.
  • Approves construction and repair of dams.
  • Enforces interstate compacts.
  • Implements and enforces the statutes of the Ground Water Management Act, passed by the Legislature, as well as implementing applicable rules and policies adopted by the Colorado Ground Water Commission and the State Board of Examiners of Water Well Construction and Pump Installation Contractors.
Ground Water Commission
  • Regulatory and adjudicatory body authorized to manage and control designated groundwater resources within Colorado.
  • Adopts rules and policies related to issuing large-capacity well permits and changes in groundwater rights within the designated groundwater basins.
    • Has established eight designated groundwater basins and 13 groundwater management districts within these basins.
State Board of Examiners of Water Well Construction and Pump Installation Contractors
  • Enforces the statutory and regulatory standards for water well construction and pump installation.
  • Monitors and observes:
    • Well construction.
    • Dewatering wells.
    • Test holes.
    • Abandonment of wells.
  • Licenses:
    • Water well construction contractors.
    • Pump installation contractors.
  • Enacts rules and adopts policies and procedures necessary to safeguard the public health and protect groundwater resources.

Department of Public Health and Environment

Water Quality Control Commission
  • Administrative agency responsible for developing specific state water quality policies, in a manner that implements the broader policies set forth by the Legislature in the Colorado Water Quality Control Act.
  • Implements water quality classifications and standards for surface and ground waters, as well as various regulations aimed at achieving compliance with those classifications and standards.
Water Quality Control Division
  • Implements and enforces regulations adopted by the Water Quality Control Commission and applicable regulations adopted by the Board of Health.
  • Regulates the discharge of pollutants into state waters.
  • Enforces state regulations governing public water supplies.
Water and Wastewater Facility Operators Certification Board
  • Maintains a program to certify operators of:
    • Water treatment plants.
    • Municipal and industrial wastewater treatment plants.
    • Water distribution systems.
    • Wastewater collection systems.