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Frequently Asked Questions


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. The Commission adopts water quality classifications and standards for surface and ground waters of the state, as well as various regulations aimed at achieving compliance with those.


The Commission usually meets the second Monday (and Tuesday, if necessary) of the month, with some variations due to holidays or joint meetings with other bodies. The meetings are held in the Sabin-Cleere Conference Room, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, 4300 Cherry Creek Drive South, unless otherwise noticed.


The agenda for each Commission meeting is posted monthly on the Water Quality Control Commission website under Meetings. The agenda is also included in the monthly Water Quality Information Bulletin which is available on the Water Quality Control Division's website. The Bulletin also contains informational hearing notices, summaries of rulemaking hearing notices, the Commission's Long Range Schedule, and other information regarding Commission activities.


Notices for rulemaking hearings are published in the Colorado Register which is available on the Secretary of State's website.  Finally, interested persons can  request email notification of Commission hearings by filling out a simple application form.


Section 25-8-202(f) of the State Water Quality Control Act requires the Commission to review control regulations and water quality classifications and standards at least once every three years. The Commission's current practice is to conduct triennial reviews by holding an informal "informational hearing" to solicit comments regarding whether particular regulations should be retained, repealed or revised. If, as a result of the informational hearing, the Commission decides that changes should be formally considered, a rulemaking hearing is scheduled for that purpose.


Citizens may participate by obtaining "party status" or simply by providing written or oral input prior to or at a hearing.


The hearing notice includes a deadline for requesting party status to a hearing. Persons with party status must meet certain prehearing deadlines for the submission of documents. They receive copies of documents from other parties, and at the hearing have the right to cross-examine witnesses. You may immediately access Information for Parties to Rulemaking Hearings, which is also included as Appendix C in the WQCC Public Participation Handbook or available from the Commission Office.



The State Water Quality Control Act provides that the Commission "shall hold a public hearing during the month of October of each year in order to hear public comment on water pollution problems within the state." C.R.S. 25-8-202(3). This hearing is typically held on the first day of the Commission's regular October meeting.


Although this formal opportunity for public input is scheduled annually, the Commission welcomes public input regarding Colorado water quality issues at any time. The Commission recommends that interested persons contact the Commission's Administrator, Trisha Oeth, at (303) 692-3468, to discuss options for bringing issues to the Commission's attention.


All Commission regulations and policies are available from the Commission's Statutes, Regulations, and Policies page. Hardcopies can be ordered for a fee by contacting:


4300 Cherry Creek Drive South
Denver, Colorado 80246-1530


(303) 692-3463


or send an E-mail to cdphe.wqcc@state.co.us


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. Note that the Colorado Act provides that 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 ground water.


  • The Colorado Act includes a number of special provisions (particularly in section 25-8-104) to assure that water quality control efforts in Colorado do not 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 does not 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 ground water quality impacts from agricultural chemicals, administered largely by the Commissioner of Agriculture, which has no parallel in the federal Act.


Note that the Colorado Water Quality Control Act does not 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 from the Colorado Board of Health to the Colorado Water Quality Control Commmission.


Your opinion is important to us.  If you have comments regarding this information, or wish to have additional information included, please email us at cdphe.wqcc@state.co.us.