Permit adjudications

 

Requesting a Hearing 

Under the Water Quality Act, affected parties may request administrative hearings to challenge the terms and conditions of issued permits, challenge permit denials, or challenge other permitting actions. If the Water Quality Control Division grants the request to hold the hearing, the department then refers the matter to a hearing officer or the Office of Administrative Courts (OAC) to hold the administrative hearing under the Water Quality Act. The OAC administrative law judge then issues an interim decision that can then be appealed to the executive director of the department. The executive director's decision represents a final agency action under the Water Quality Control Act. 

Requesting party status (intervening)

Under the State of Colorado permit appeal regulations, any person or group who may be affected or aggrieved by the State’s action on the permit may request “party status” in permit appeal hearings to participate as an intervenor in that hearing. Applications should include a brief statement that includes:

  • The reasons for seeking party status.
  • The facts which entitle you to be admitted as a party. This could include your interest in the permit and how you might be affected by the permit.
  • The matters which you have decided that describes what you see as important issues. 
  • A description of the general nature of the evidence to be presented in the course of the proceedings.

Before the department refers the matter to a hearing officer or the OAC, a party may file a request for party status/intervention by emailing Meg Parish, Permits Section Manager, Water Quality Control Division, Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment,meg.parish@state.co.us.

After the department refers the matter to a hearing officer and the OAC, the hearing officer or OAC will set a hearing date and issue a case management order with deadlines for intervention applications. When that happens, the OAC's instructions and deadlines will be posted here. 

Current Hearings:
 
Mt. Crested Butte Water and Sanitation District, CDPS Permit No. CO0027171 (link goes to permit file)
Permit to discharge 1.2 million gallons a day of wastewater to Woods Creek, Washington Gulch, and the Slate River in Gunnison County
Status:
  • Mt. Crested Butte Water and Sanitation District requested a hearing and a stay on certain permit terms on January 29, 2020.
  • The Water Quality Control Division granted the hearing request on February 10, 2020.
  • The Water Quality Control Division granted the stay in part and denied the stay in part on February 10, 2020.
  • The matter has not yet been referred to the OAC.
  • Requests for intervention/party status may be sent to meg.parish@state.co.us until matter is referred to OAC. 
  • On February 10, 2020, Moon Ridge Homeowners Association (Moon Ridge), of Crested Butte, Colorado, requested intervention/party status. 
  • On March 3, 2020, Saddle Ridge Ranch Water Company (Saddle Ridge), of Crested Butte, Colorado, requested intervention/party status.
  • On March 11, 2020, the Water Quality Control Division issued a notice stating that it would defer a determination on the pending requests for intervention until this matter is before the OAC and, in the meantime, plans to share all relevant documents with both Moon Ridge and Saddle Ridge and include both Moon Ridge and Saddle Ridge in meetings with Mount Crested Butte Water and Sanitation District regarding the administrative hearing. This notice is available in the public permit folder. 
Union Pacific, CDPS Permit No. CO0047554 (link goes to permit file)
Status:
  • Order granting request for hearing issued; not yet referred to OAC.  
  • Grand County granted intervention by Division.
  • Requests for party status may be sent to meg.parish@state.co.us until matter is referred to OAC. 

Mountain Coal West Elk Mine, CDPS Permit No. CO0038776 (link goes to permit file)

Status:
  • Mountain Coal requested a hearing and stay on certain permit terms on September 27, 2019.
  • The Water Quality Control Division granted the hearing request in part and denied the stay on October 7, 2019.
  • Requests for party status may be sent to meg.parish@state.co.us until matter is referred to OAC. 
  • On March 3, 2020, the Water Quality Control Division came to a partial settlement in this matter.  The division and Mountain Coal agreed to settle the Gunnison County District Court, Case No. 2019-CV-30041, and upon issuance of a permit modification, to settle some of the disputed issues in the OAC adjudicatory hearing. This partial settlement is available in the public permits folder. Under this partial settlement, some permit terms will be put on hold during the litigation.  
  • The division issued the permit modification on April 28, 2020.  
  1. On May 29, 2020 the division issued a revised hearing order granting a hearing on the two remaining issues:
    Whether the Division violated any applicable laws and regulations when it required a discharge permit for Outfalls 025, 026, 027, 030, 032, 033, 034, and 035 because: 
    • Outfalls 025, 026, 027, 030, 032, 033, 034, and 035 are not point source discharges to a state surface water, 
    • Outfalls 025, 026, 027, 030, 032, 033, 034, and 035 fall under the permitting jurisdiction of DRMS; or 
    • The Division failed to take into account the economic reasonableness or environmental benefits of including Outfalls 025, 026, 027, 030, 032, 033, 034, and 035 in the permit, contrary to the requirements of the Water Quality Control Act.
  2. Whether the Division violated any applicable laws and regulations when it included effluent limitations and monitoring for Outfalls 025, 026, 027, 030, 032, 033, 034, and 035 because these are not outfalls, but if they were, they would be stormwater.
  • On June 12, the division (through the department) referred the matter, as reflected in the revised hearing order, to the OAC. The referral can be found here.
  • The OAC has not yet issued a case management order with instructions for applying for intervention. Until then, requests for party status/intervention may be sent to meg.parish@state.co.us but you may also have to file them with the OAC at a later date.
More information on the hearing process and requirements is available in our regulations and the Water Quality Control Act:

Regulation 21, and Regulation 61.7

Water Quality Control Act, Part 4.