House invests in clean drinking water

Environment Colorado

DENVER—A measure to protect and improve Colorado water quality passed the first of two votes by the House of Representatives today.  Sponsored by Representative Kathleen Curry (D) and Senator Betty Boyd (D), the measure (HB07-1329) is designed to increase funding for  the Water Quality Control Division to ensure clean, safe drinking water for all of Colorado. 

The measure will fund new full time staff members at the Water Quality Control Division by establishing and modifying fees paid for various permits by water providers and wastewater dischargers.  Many of these fees were cut after the 2003 budget shortage; this bill will reinstate them and ensure that the Division is on a path towards fiscal security.

“Recent audits by the EPA and the Colorado Auditor’s office have demonstrated that Colorado’s drinking water is in dire need of more assistance,” said Representative Curry.  “By raising revenues we can invest more funds to protect our drinking water.” 

Representative Curry also expressed her desire to work on the legislation saying “In a state like Colorado where everyone lives downstream, none of us can afford not to make drinking water quality funding a priority”.

Environment Colorado’s Clean Water Advocate Stephanie Thomas explained that due to the staffing shortage at the Water Quality Control Division, the Division is unable to adequately enforce water quality protection regulations and statutes. 

Recent estimates by the Division are that the Division needs a minimum of 33 additional employees.  Estimates from national models developed by the EPA and state experts across the nation say that the Division may need as many as 80 additional staff members to ensure adequate protection of Colorado’s waters. 

Thomas noted that “this bill keeps us on the right path, though it doesn’t get us all the way there.”  “Nonetheless,” she said, “the bill provides more funding for new employees and will definitely increase the ability of the Division to adequately enforce and monitor statewide water quality issues.”

Founded in 1966 the Colorado Environmental Coalition is the largest state-based citizens’ group committed to conserving our clean air, water and open spaces for generations to come; uniting Coloradoans to protect our natural heritage and quality of life.