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Colorado Groundwater Discharge Permit (14-CO-e)

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) Water Quality Control Division (WQCD) regulates groundwater discharges under Colorado Water Quality Control Act and 5 CCR 1002-61 Colorado Discharge Permit System Regulations. The WQCD requires a Colorado Discharge Permit for all land application discharges and discharges from impoundment, unless excluded by 5 CCR 1002-61.14 (1).

Groundwater Discharge Permit Process

14-CO-e.1 to 14-CO-e.3 – Does the Groundwater Discharge Require a Permit

The WQCD requires a Colorado Discharge Permit for all land application discharges and discharges from impoundments, unless excluded. 5 CCR 1002-61.2 defines a “land application” discharge is defined as “any discharge being applied directly to the land for land disposal or land treatment and does not include a discharge to surface water even if such waters are subsequently diverted and applied to the land.” A discharge from “impoundment” is defined as a facility or part of a facility which is a natural topographic depression, man-made excavation, or diked area formed primarily of earthen materials (although it may be lined with man-made materials), which is used for the storage, treatment, evaporation or discharge of pollutant-containing waters, sludge or associated sediment.” The following groundwater discharges are excluded from the WQCD’s Colorado Discharge Permit System:

  • Any impoundment subject to regulation under the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act (42 USC, Section 7901, et. seq.);
  • Any impoundment used in the treatment, storage, or recharge of raw or potable water;
  • Any stormwater retention or detention impoundment;
  • Any impoundment or land application system for which a presently valid certificate of designation has been obtained pursuant to the Solid Waste Disposal Sites and Facilities Act (C.R.S. 1973, 30-20-101, et seq.) and other impoundments or land application systems subject to regulation under that act, which are not part of a wastewater treatment system for which a Colorado Discharge Permit is required for a discharge to surface waters;
  • Any tank which does not result in a discharge to groundwater;
  • Any beneficial use of biosolids through land application pursuant to 5 CCR 1002-64 Biosolids Regulation or the beneficial use of septage through land application pursuant to 40 CFR 503;
  • Any facility operating under a permit issued pursuant to the Underground Injection Control provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act;
  • Any individual sewage disposal system with a design capacity of 2,000 gallons per day or less, if designed and constructed in accordance with requirements pursuant to the CRS 25-10-101 On-site Wastewater Treatment Systems Act;
  • Any onsite landscape irrigation system located on a domestic wastewater treatment plant site using treated effluent that is applied at an agronomic rate;

5 CCR 1002-61.14(1)(b)

  • Activities that are subject to the jurisdiction of:
(a) The Division of Reclamation and Mining Safety of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources;
(b) The State Engineer of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources;
(c) The Oil and Gas Conservation Commission of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources;
(d) The Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment; or
(e) The Division of Oil and Public Safety of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

5 CCR 1002-61.14(2)

  • Impoundments that can demonstrate, using a method approved by the WQCD, that seepage from the impoundment does not exceed 1 X 〖10〗^(-6) cm/sec (“Allowable Seepage”) and receive the WQCD’s concurrence, based on a review design, operating plan, and other available information, that the type of liner or other impermeable material which is in place will maintain their integrity for the projected life of the impoundment;
  • The owner of a land application system can demonstrate:
(a) The design and operation of the system will result in complete evapotranspiration of the effluent;
(b) There is adequate storage provided for the effluent during periods of inclement weather or where the ground has been frozen unless the provisions of (a) above, can be met during the entire year; and
(c) Any augmentation plan or substitute supply plan for the land application site does not provide a credit for return of the effluent to groundwater.
  • Land application of reclaimed water is occurring under the provisions of a notice of authorization issued pursuant to Regulation 84, including any return flow.

5 CCR 1002-61.14(1)

Activities not excluded from the Colorado Discharge Permit System must obtain a Colorado Discharge Permit.

Colorado Discharge Permit System (CDPS):

14-CO-e.4 to 14-CO-e.6 – Does the Groundwater Discharge Require a Control Plan

The WQCD may require the applicant to complete and submit a control plan as a permit condition if the concentration of an effluent parameter at any verification monitoring point exceeds:

  • A value based on the predicted attenuation at that point which was used to determine that an effluent limitation could be met at the point of compliance or
  • The effluent limitation itself where the effluent limit is established at a point other than the point of compliance.

When the WQCD requires a control plan, the plan must describe the applicant’s action which will insure that the concentration of the pollutant(s) of concern will not exceed the effluent limit(s) for the pollutant(s) at any point of compliance. A control plan is not required where the applicant can demonstrate that the elevated pollutant concentrations are being caused by an off-site activity for which the applicant is not responsible.

5 CCR 1002-61.14(6)

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