Water Quality Control Commission general information

About us

The Water Quality Control Commission is the administrative agency responsible for developing specific water quality policy in Colorado, in a manner that implements the broader policies set forth by the Legislature in the Colorado Water Quality Control Act. We adopt water quality classifications and standards for surface and groundwaters, as well as various regulations aimed at achieving compliance with those classifications and standards.

We usually meet the second Monday (and Tuesday, if necessary) of each month, with some variations due to holidays or joint meetings with other bodies.

The meetings are held in the Sabin Cleere Conference Room of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, 4300 Cherry Creek Drive South, in Denver unless otherwise noticed.

Current Commissioners

State Water Agencies and External Water Quality Resources

  • Determine who to contact with water-related issues

Colorado vs. federal water acts

  • The major elements of the federal Clean Water Act and the Colorado Water Quality Control Act are very similar.
    • Each is based on a discharge permit program for "point source" discharges of pollutants, requiring that discharges meet both federally established, technology-based effluent limitations and state-adopted water quality standards.
    • The permit program is enforced through potential civil and criminal penalties.
    • The Colorado act says the state "shall maintain a program which does not conflict with the provisions of the federal act."
  • Areas in which the Colorado act differs from the federal act include:
    • The federal act regulates only surface water quality, while in Colorado "waters of the state" is defined to include groundwater.
    • The Colorado act includes a number of special provisions (particularly in Section 25-8-104) to ensure water quality control efforts in Colorado don’t interfere with Colorado's established water rights system.
    • The Colorado act includes a requirement for "site approval" of new or expanded domestic wastewater treatment plants, which doesn’t appear in the federal act.
  • Under the Colorado act, the state may adopt "control regulations" for a fairly broad set of water quality protection purposes, subject to specific limitations on adopting control regulations for agricultural nonpoint sources.
  • The Colorado act includes a program addressing potential groundwater quality impacts from agricultural chemicals, administered largely by the commissioner of agriculture, which has no parallel in the federal act.
  • Please note that the Colorado Water Quality Control Act doesn’t address drinking water quality management issues that are addressed by the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.
  • Until 2006, Colorado's drinking water program was implemented under the general public health protection authority of the Colorado Board of Health.
    • In 2006, the Legislature transferred rulemaking authority to us from the Board of Health.