Water Quality Committee Meeting Summary: December 2021

Federal Update

WOTUS Update: Chris Richard updated the committee regarding EPA and the Biden administration’s repeal and rewrite of the WOTUS rule.

Step 1 – Implement the Raponos guidance, few expulsions but wastewater exclusion still exists. Reference back to exclusions relied upon from 1996 and other older rules. Reference to conductivity report from the 2015 rulemaking process. References to original intent of act, not legal interpretations. NMA to draft comments.

Comments or Questions: Stan asked about roundtable discussions: Colorado – Still planned for January, Colorado Water Congress may have submitted a slate for consideration.

Wait and see on Step 2 rule.

Lucy Harrington of GEI stated her firm will be assisting NMA prepare comments, and CMA should consider how to contribute.

Discussed status of nationwide permits.

Selenium – Comments due January 3 to EPA.

EPA issued technical support document for aluminum and comments will be due in 60 days.

ESA – Lucy Harrington mentioned anticipated changes to ESA in 2022.

Colorado Issues

Aluminum – Small CMA group – Chantell developed issue statement (contact Stan Dempsey for more information) – what is the issue: First, Colorado – regulation 31 identified permitting group applies aluminum and other standards not routinely applied in stream segments, could face new permitting limits, with reasonable potential to affect stream standard or narrative standard. Could result in treatment and new permit limits.

Schedule 2nd week in January – Aluminum

Water Quality Forum Aluminum Workgroup – January 4

Should CMA make comments? We’re still evaluating. Next meeting is May 3.

Chemical Evaluations – Workgroup meeting on November 17 – template from Chantell.

Anti-Degradation Implicit Nils – Comments due December 22, WQCD to issue draft on January 13 – Key point – Agency evaluating detection limits – data showing below detection limits, agency evaluating a zero limit. Two-year period. Narrow definition

Stan reviewed the action by CDPHE asking WQCC to reconsider its rule regarding anti-degradation: https://coloradosun.com/2021/12/15/colorado-water-quality-upgrading-south-platte-river-protections/

Comments were made about the precedent set by the petition to reconsider the rulemaking using the provisions of HB 1266. Members expressed concern about not being able to rely upon adopted rules.

Dianna mentioned the concept of “rights of nature” for rivers. The towns of Nederland, Ridgeway and Crestone have adopted resolutions that provide a “guardian” for the river and advocate for the health of a river.

Dianna mentioned that advocates of this concept hope to secure state legislation to implement this concept.
No update on the “Headwaters bill” proposed by Senator Kerry Donovan during the summer’s Legislative Water Resource Interim Committee.
Discussion of PFAS identification methods by EPA and ASTM.
Dredge and Fill – Nothing new from the State of Colorado.
Stan posed the question of how Colorado fits into the picture in terms of advocacy on the issue at the national scene.