Unprecedented Win for Water Quality in Colorado!
On June 14, Colorado’s Water Quality Control Commission voted 7-1 to protect 520 miles on 25 streams across Southwest Colorado, adopting the first proposal of its kind. American Whitewater and our partners that make up the Southwest Colorado Outstanding Waters Coalition have been hard at work over the past three years to prove that these high quality rivers and creeks deserve protection. Our proposal included beloved paddling segments like the headwaters of the Taylor River, Escalante Creek, Lime Creek, and many others that were acknowledged for their exceptional ecological and recreational attributes.
Under the Clean Water Act, Outstanding Waters provide the highest level of water quality protections in Colorado. The designation acknowledges the high water quality that currently exists and ensures it is protected at that level for the future. These rivers and creeks will be protected from future development, mining, and other uses that would degrade their water quality below its current high level.
In tandem with High Country Conservation Advocates, AW staff gave final testimony to the Water Quality Control Commission on June 13 making the argument for water quality protections on 26 streams across the Gunnison, Dolores, Animas, and San Juan Basins in Colorado. 25 of 26 of our proposed streams were approved and recognized for their high water quality, exceptional ecological and recreational values, and the need for their protection. While recreation is included as a qualifying value in Colorado’s water quality regulations, this is the first time that recreation has been successfully used in an Outstanding Waters proposal.
As we face continued drought and water quality stressors in Colorado, protection of over 500 miles of high quality waters in Colorado is a big win, but more needs to be done. Our next opportunity to secure Outstanding Waters protections is in the Arkansas and Rio Grande Basins, where there are many high quality streams still deserving of protection.