Colorado Thermal Discharges regulations & environmental compliance analysis

Colorado Thermal Discharges: What you need to know

Governing Law and Regulations

Colorado Water Quality Control Act: Colorado Revised Statutes (CRS) 25-8-101 to 25-8-406

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Standards for surface water: 5 Code of Colorado Regulations (CCR) 1002-31.13

Colorado Pollutant Discharge System (CPDS) permits: 5 CCR 1002-61

Water quality standards:

Water use classifications: 5 CCR 1002-31.13

Discharge permits: 5 CCR 1002-31.14

River basin temperatures: 5 CCR 1002-32 to 1002-38

Temperature measurements: 5 CCR 1002-31.16(2)

Regulatory Agencies

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) Office of Environment Water Quality Control Division (WQCD)

Water Quality Control Commission (Commission)

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 8

See ADDRESSES & CONTACTS for addresses and telephone numbers.

See national section for basic information and federal regulations.

Comparison: State vs. Federal

Rules. Colorado has developed geographically specific temperature standards for effluent discharges. These standards generally follow federal guidelines. The state's permit program is known as the Colorado Pollutant Discharge System (CPDS) program instead of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). Every CDPS applicant must report quantitative data for every outfall for both winter and summer temperatures.

Administration and enforcement. CDPHE's WQCD is responsible for implementing and enforcing all thermal discharge regulations in Colorado.

State Requirements


Under the Colorado Water Quality Control Act, the WQCD has classified and established surface water quality standards for specific state waters, including temperature criteria on a site-specific basis.

Water Use Classifications

5 CCR 1002-31.13

WQCD establishes classifications for ...

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