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Take Action to Protect Water Quality in Colorado

Posted: 04/28/2021
By: Kestrel Kunz

Colorado’s waters are at stake. From our high mountain streams to the backyard of urban communities, water quality is threatened state-wide. The Colorado Water Quality Control Commission has proposed a change to the antidegradation rule that would allow for more pollution into higher quality waters without review or justification. The proposed rule would go against the very premise of the Clean Water Act, which the Commission is tasked with implementing and overseeing in Colorado. All Coloradans should care about this proposed change and underserved communities are likely to see the most egregious impacts. Help us protect the antidegradation policy by signing on to this petition to the Water Quality Control Commission. 


The antidegradation rule was established in Colorado to maintain higher water quality waters, except when the regulator finds that the economic and social benefit of the activity that would increase pollution is worth the degradation in question. The proposed rule change would eliminate this important review for many streams and expose waters to increased pollution. The negative impacts would span across the state, impacting drinking water, high-quality paddling opportunities, and wildlife habitat, and would disproportionately affect marginalized communities in urban areas. Under the rule change, if a single pollutant out of dozens that the State monitors exceeds the threshold limit it could allow for increased levels of any pollutant. This devastating rollback would reverse decades of progress towards clean, healthy rivers and threaten the integrity of the Clean Water Act, which is nearing its 50th anniversary. 

To help protect the livelihood and quality of life for all Coloradans, we need the river community to stand up and tell the Water Quality Control Commission to say NO to the proposed rule change. You can read the detailed changes to the antidegradation rule on pages 73-78 of the Water Quality Control Division’s Prehearing Statement on Regulation Number 31. The categorization of this rule change as “clean up, corrections, and clarifications” is a huge misrepresentation of the devastating magnitude this rollback will have on water quality and would allow it to sneak through the cracks without the public input it deserves. Do your part to help protect water quality in Colorado by signing this petition to the Water Quality Control Commission!


American Whitewater is also looking for members of the community to submit written comments and give oral testimony at the Commission’s hearing on June 14. Please email or if you are willing to help us elevate this important issue.

Kestrel Kunz

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