10-Year Water Quality Roadmap

An empty, two-lane road leading to snow-capped mountains in Colorado

Nutrients are essential compounds in Colorado's ecosystems, like lakes and streams, where we get most of our drinking water. However, too many nutrients can lower the quality of the water and harm fish and aquatic species. The Water Quality Roadmap is a plan that outlines important steps to help keep our streams and lakes clean and healthy.


The Water Quality Control Division developed the Roadmap in October 2017 with input from various individuals with interests and concerns about protecting Colorado's water sources.

The Roadmap guides the division's efforts to reduce nutrients from point (a single place) and nonpoint (many places) sources. Through this work, the division will develop information to recommend and support putting new water quality rules in action. The cohesive nature of the Roadmap supports coordination across all areas of the division's Clean Water Program. This includes monitoring, standards, nonpoint sources, permits, and engineering.


Overview of the Water Quality Roadmap

Develop criteria and implementation packages through technical work and strategic planning.

The division and stakeholders will gather and analyze scientific evidence. This work will support the Water Quality Control Commission's adoption of those standards.

  • We will develop or update criteria for priority pollutants, including nutrients.
  • We will investigate the technological and financial feasibility of meeting new criteria.
  • We will examine the information required for site-specific modifications to statewide standards.
  • We will add more information on how to implement new criteria in the draft criteria package.
  • We will release draft criteria early to allow the regulated community time to consider the impacts of implementation.

Develop and put standards into effect.

  • The commission is planning to establish water quality standards for several substances. These substances include nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and chlorophyll “a,” as well as cadmium, temperature, arsenic, ammonia, and selenium.
  • The commission will adopt the new water quality criteria into Regulation No. 31 and the basin regulations (Regulation Nos. 32-38) at the same time.
  • We used this approach in the Cadmium rulemaking hearing in 2019 and the Lake Nutrients rulemaking hearings in 2023, finding it to be more efficient and equitable.
  • We will implement water quality criteria as standards throughout each river basin (Regulation 32-38). Our approach will focus on prioritization instead of basin rotation.
  • We will issue permits that follow established standards for discharging pollutants. These permits will ensure that released pollutants are at acceptable levels.
  • We will explore ways to reduce the amount of nutrients that enter waterways through complex sources, such as agriculture.

Conduct engagement that promotes inclusive participation, meaningful involvement, and flexibility.

The division will provide a stakeholder process through the Water Quality Roadmap.

  • We invite you to participate in our quarterly workgroup meetings, Technical Advisory Committees (TACs), and subgroup meetings. This will allow you to engage with us and contribute your thoughts and ideas.
  • We will strategically target members for our TACs to ensure proper representation.
  • We will give annual updates on our progress to the commission and Colorado’s Water Quality Forum.
  • We will engage disproportionately impacted communities and integrate environmental justice concerns.
  • We will conduct an annual review of the Roadmap with stakeholders. We will revise it based on progress, limitations, resources, and Colorado's water priorities.

Revising water quality standards


Over 10 years, from 2017 to 2027, CDPHE will develop or revise the water quality standards listed below. Our plan allows extra time for us to address complicated criteria development. A key point in the plan is our focus on stakeholder input about the complexity of treatment if the commission adopts new or revised standards for multiple substances. We are committed to an extensive stakeholder process including quarterly workgroup meetings.

Each standard will have a technical advisory committee (TAC) that will focus on the technical aspects of each standard. TAC members have technical expertise in the area they are representing. Those that are interested in these topics but do not have the expertise, should participate in the quarterly workgroup meetings. You can find the TAC materials under each standard on the list below.

How to get involved



In 2017, the division started a long-term stakeholder process to develop and revise a set of water quality standards. The division will meet with stakeholders through quarterly workgroup meetings, Technical Advisory Committees (TACs), and subgroups.


Meeting materials, including agendas, presentations, and a copy of the meeting recording, will be stored in this public folder.

2024 Water Quality Roadmap Meetings - Register to attend on Zoom

  • Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024 | 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, May 16, 2024 | 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, Aug. 13, 2024 | 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • Thursday, Nov. 14, 2024 | 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Sign up to receive notifications about this effort, and scroll down to select “General - Water Quality Roadmap.”

Feasibility and implementation subgroup
Adopting new and more stringent water quality standards in Colorado without first addressing how to do so has resulted in various challenges for the division and stakeholders. The feasibility and implementation subgroup will explore and develop solutions to challenges faced by the division and stakeholders regarding establishing, implementing, and complying with existing and new water quality standards. From March to Dec. 2024, the division will host monthly feasibility and implementation subgroup meetings.

2024 Feasibility and implementation subgroup meetings - Register to attend on Zoom

  • Thursday, March 21, 2024 | 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Wednesday, April 17, 2024 | 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Thursday, June 20, 2024 | 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Thursday, July 25, 2024 | 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Thursday, Sept. 19, 2024 | 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2024 | 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2024 | 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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Each standard will have a technical advisory committee (TAC) that concentrates on the technical aspects of the standard. To access TAC materials, please click on the respective standard below. Please note that some TACs have yet to start.

If you want to participate in a technical advisory committee, please review the TAC fact sheet and complete this interest form below.