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Regulate Dredge & Fill Activities in State Waters

Concerning the regulation of state waters in response to recent federal court action.
2024 Regular Session
Bill Summary

The bill requires the water quality control commission (commission) in the department of public health and environment (department) to promulgate rules by May 31, 2025, as necessary to implement a state dredge and fill discharge authorization program (program) and requires the division of administration (division) in the department to administer and enforce authorizations for activities that will result in the discharge of dredged or fill material into state waters. The rules must focus on avoidance of, minimization of, and compensation for the impacts of dredge and fill activity (activity), include application requirements, and be at least as protective as the guidelines developed pursuant to section 404 (b)(1) of the federal "Clean Water Act".

The bill establishes duties for the division in administering the program, as follows:

  • The division shall issue individual authorizations consistent with the rules promulgated by the commission;
  • The division shall issue general authorizations for the discharge of dredged or fill material into state waters from certain categories of activities that have minimal effects on state waters and the environment;
  • The division shall utilize the existing structure of preconstruction notifications in the nationwide and regional permits established by the United States Army Corps of Engineers and issue general authorizations to be effective for categories of activities that do not require preconstruction notification; and
  • The division may include conditions in a notice of authorization, on a case-by-case basis, to clarify the terms and conditions of a general authorization or to ensure that an activity will have only minimal individual and cumulative adverse effects on state waters.

Compensatory mitigation is required in all individual authorizations and in general authorizations where unavoidable adverse impacts to wetlands will affect over one-tenth of an acre or, for streams, where unavoidable adverse impacts greater than the threshold established by the commission by rule will occur. Compensatory mitigation may be accomplished through the purchase of mitigation bank credits, an in-lieu fee program, or project-proponent-responsible mitigation.

Until the rules become effective:

  • The division's Clean Water Policy 17, "Enforcement of Unpermitted Discharges of Dredged and Fill Material into State Waters", continues to be effective;
  • For projects that do not qualify for enforcement discretion under the division's Clean Water Policy 17, the division may issue temporary authorizations for the discharge of dredged or fill material into state waters only under certain conditions; and
  • Temporary authorizations must include conditions necessary to protect the public health and the environment and to meet the intent of the bill.

The division may issue a temporary authorization for a period not to exceed 2 years.

The bill deems certain activities exempt and therefore does not require a discharge authorization for, or otherwise require regulation of, such activities. The bill also excludes certain types of waters from the bill's regulatory requirements.

The bill clarifies that "state waters" includes wetlands.

In current law, with certain exceptions, an applicant for any water diversion, delivery, or storage facility that requires an application for a permit, license, or other approval from the United States must inform the Colorado water conservation board, the parks and wildlife commission, and the division of parks and wildlife of its application and submit a mitigation proposal. The bill extends the same requirement to an applicant for any such facility that requires an individual authorization from the division.

(Note: This summary applies to this bill as introduced.)


Under Consideration


Bill Text


Sponsor Type Legislators
Prime Sponsor

Rep. J. McCluskie, Rep. K. McCormick
Sen. D. Roberts



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