Water Quality Committee – October 2018

CMA’s Water Quality Committee meets monthly at the CMA office. Chaired by Jimmy Boswell of Peabody Energy, the committee has addressed a number of common water quality issues that members face in permitting and enforcement contexts.Several CMA members met last month with John Swartout, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper’s Senior Policy Advisor, to express their views on these issues. The following items have been thoroughly discussed with CMA members, and with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Water Quality Control Division staff.

  1. Refusal of the WQCD to meet with permittees applying or renewing for water quality permits prior to a draft permit being issued. CMA believes pre-application meetings can benefit both applicants and the Division, and can result in fewer issues that need to be addressed by draft permits.
  2.  Application of permit conditions that have never before been applied in previous permits. For example, several CMA members have been required to comply with water quality standards not at the mine, but downstream of the facility at a point where the standards may be more stringent.
  3. Colorado law clarifies the roles of several state agencies regarding water quality responsibilities. CMA has expressed concerns about the Water Quality Control Division’s overreach into responsibilities for water quality programs administered by the Division of Mining and Safety.

CMA’s Water Quality Committee meets the same day of the Water Quality Forum’s Permit Working Group. The Colorado Water Quality Forum was created in 1992 to provide an opportunity for an ongoing informal dialogue among diverse parties representing a broad spectrum of stakeholder interests in water quality management. Participants include water suppliers, industrial and municipal dischargers, environmental groups, and federal, state, and local governmental agencies. The Permits Implementation Work Group was formed out of the Regulation No. 61 workgroup to understand how regulations, policies, guidance, and standards were applied in permits, and to evaluate whether any change was needed.

Several CMA members participate in the permit workgroups. We will continue to discuss the work of the Permit Issues Workgroup as an agenda item at each of the monthly meetings of the CMA Water Quality Committee.

The CMA Water Quality Committee is an excellent way for member companies to become aware of emerging water quality topics. This month, we discussed the Water Quality Control Division’s upcoming 303 (d) Listing Methodology workgroup. This workgroup will provide the forum for the revision of the regulation establishing Colorado’s List of Water-Quality-Limited Segments Requiring Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs). This list fulfills Section 303(d) of the federal Clean Water Act, which requires states to submit to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) a list of waters for which technology-based effluent limitations and other required controls aren’t stringent enough to implement water quality standards.

Fred Menzer, CMA’s former Chairman in 2012 and 2016, and a member of the Water Quality Control Commission, has announced he will not apply for a second term. Fred, who retired from the Climax Molybdenum Company in 2016, brought an important perspective to the Commission having worked in a number of capacities in the mining industry. CMA encourages CMA members to consider applying for this seat on the Commission which is appointed by the Governor.

The Colorado Water Quality Control Commission will hold a Town Hall session on October 9 at 11:30 am during which the public can ask questions or provide feedback to the Commission.  The Town Hall will be held in the Sabin Conference Room at the campus of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, 4300 Cherry Creek Drive South.