Protect Colorado drinking water and waterways

Why is this important to Colorado?


  • Clean water is critical to public health and the well-being of all Coloradans. Our fish and wildlife also continue to grow, pollution mitigation will prove increasingly important. Colorado implements multiple depend upon our healthy natural environment. As Colorado’s population and economic development strategies designed to meet or exceed all applicable federal and state water and air quality standards.  As noted for the clean air goal:
  • Clean water and air are basic requirements of human health and well-being
  • Clean air and water are cherished by Coloradans and are central to the Colorado way of life
  • As Colorado’s population continues to grow, preserving air and water quality becomes increasingly important
  • Colorado’s plants and animals also depend upon a clean and healthy environment
  • Poor air and water quality tends to affect disadvantaged communities disproportionately
  • Preventing waterborne disease outbreaks and maintaining water quality is necessary to protect public and environmental health, and also important to Colorado’s economy as evidenced by the grave impacts of drinking water outbreaks.


How do we measure success?

  • The percent of total miles of rivers and streams meeting quality standards in June 2015 were 51.6%. By 2018, we plan to increase the total miles of rivers and streams meeting these standards to 58.6% of Colorado’s rivers and streams.
  • Number of waterborne disease outbreaks during the year. In 2008, there was 1 such outbreak, and no such outbreaks since 2009 in public drinking water systems monitored by Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).
  • In June 2015, 30.1% of total acres of lakes and reservoirs in Colorado were meeting quality standards. By 2018, we plan to increase that number to 42.1% of lakes and reservoirs in Colorado meeting quality standards.
  • Percent of population served by community public drinking water systems that meet all health-based standards. For the five-year average ending in 2015, 97% met standards. Standards have become more stringent and the department has improved business processes for identifying and issuing violations. As drinking water actually becomes safer, this measure decreases for while, likely a few years.


Status Outcome Measure Outcome Baseline (June 2015) Actual (June 2016) Actual June 2017 Outcome Target Target date
Work in Progress Rivers/streams meeting standards 51.6% 59.0% TBD- June 2018 58.6% 2018
Waterborne disease outbreaks 1 (Dec 2008) 0 (2009-2015) 0 0 2019
Work in Progress Lakes/reservoirs meeting standards 30.1% 33.13% TBD- June 2018 42.1% 2018
Needs Improvement Public drinking water systems meeting standards 97% (2010-2015) 97% 91% 98.0% 2017

Source: CDPHE

What actions are we taking?

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) implements the federal Safe Drinking Water and Clean Water Acts in Colorado and improved the ability to identify and issue violations that can cause waterborne disease outbreaks. CDPHE provides a broad range of assistance and oversight to entities in Colorado that must comply with these laws. Specifically, CDPHE provides one-on-one assistance and training to public drinking water systems and CDPHE samples water quality in rivers and lakes to determine problem areas and focus restoration efforts. Finally, CDPHE is working with the United States Air Force, USEPA, and drinking water systems near the towns of Security, Widefield and Fountain to help address the discovery of the per-fluorinated compounds known as PFOS and PFOA in the local groundwater aquifer. All of the impacted drinking water systems have implemented changes so that the public has access to drinking water that meets EPA’s health advisory levels for PFOS and PFOA.