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Colorado's Groundwater Program

 Colorado’s Groundwater Program


Groundwater protection in Colorado is diverse, with a number of State agencies undertaking varying roles in providing water quality protection and assessment. A number of these agencies, referred to as “implementing agencies”, are charged with protecting groundwater under separate Federal or State legislation. The various implementing agencies have developed program specific regulations, under their respective authorities, to address groundwater quality issues.


The Water Quality Control Commission addresses Colorado’s Standards for Groundwater in:

Regulation 41 - The Basic Standards for Ground Water

Regulation 42 - Site-Specific Water Quality Classification and Standards for Ground Water


The Water Quality Control Division regulates the discharge of pollutants into the State's surface and groundwater under the provisions of the Colorado Water Quality Control Act of 1974. The protection and maintenance of water quality is achieved by issuing permits specifying the types and amounts of pollutants that may be discharged without violating the state water quality standards.


The other implementing agencies are as follows:


Colorado Department of Agriculture

The Agricultural Chemicals and Groundwater Protection Program is a collaborative program between the Department of Agriculture, Colorado State University Extension, and the Water Quality Control Division. The Department of Agriculture is the lead agency in the program. The purpose of the Program is to reduce agricultural chemicals’ negative impacts on groundwater and the environment. Agricultural chemicals covered under this legislation include commercial fertilizers and all pesticides.

The Program’s monitoring program has prioritized its sampling in basins where agriculture predominates and rural homes utilize groundwater. The groundwater quality data can be found through the Program’s website.

Division of Oil and  Public Safety

The Division of Oil and Public Safety (OPS) has groundwater quality responsibilities under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Subtitle I of 1976 as amended. OPS regulates the assessment and remediation of petroleum releases at groundwater contaminated sites within Colorado.

Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety

The Division of Reclamation, Mining, and Safety (DRMS) is responsible for mineral and energy development, policy, regulation and planning under the Colorado Mined Land Reclamation Act and the Colorado Land Reclamation Act for the Extraction of Construction Materials. DRMS implements the Water Quality Control Commission’s groundwater standards in permitted mining activities in the state.

The Division of Water Resources/ Office of the State Engineer

The Division of Water Resources (DWR), also known as the Office of the State Engineer, administers water rights, issues water well permits, represents Colorado in interstate water compact proceedings, monitors streamflow and water use, approves construction and repair of dams and performs dam safety inspections, issues licenses for well drillers and assures the safe and proper construction of water wells, and maintains numerous databases of Colorado water information.

 Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) is an implementing agency for groundwater quality standards and classifications adopted by the Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC) for groundwater protection.

The COGCC issues permits for the drilling and operation of oil and gas wells, regulates production pit construction and operation, and enforces rules and regulations for the spacing of wells, wellbore construction and well site reclamation. Rules for the abandonment of wells and for the treatment and disposal of oil and gas production waste are also enforced. COGCC rules implement the statutory charge to prevent significant environmental impacts to air, water, soil or biological resources caused by oil and gas operations.

Hazardous MateriaIs and Waste Management Division

The Hazardous MateriaIs and Waste Management Division (MMWMD) is responsible for administering the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and related programs. The Division regulates solid waste management, treatment and disposal facilities, and hazardous waste generation, storage, transportation, treatment, and disposal. The Division assists in the cleanup of hazardous waste sites including CERCLA/Superfund sites and uranium mill tailings. Other programs include participation in "brownfields" redevelopment through implementation of the Voluntary Cleanup and Redevelopment Act and cleanup assistance within the solid waste and hazardous waste programs both federal and non federal.