Protecting and implementing local authority to protect water resources.

QQ’s work in this area broadly includes any efforts to protect water quality and quantity and defend local government ability to regulate for environmental protection, including protecting local 1041 authority. Lately, many challenges to local government ability to regulate for environmental protection has arisen in the context of oil and gas regulation, as discussed in greater detail below. QQ also works with local governments to help strengthen and implement water quality provisions of their land use codes, with QQ members and statewide. QQ maintains a legal defense fund, available for use as approved by QQ membership, to be used for special projects or efforts which may arise.

Our Work

Local 1041 Authority

House Bill 1041 (CRS § 24-65.1-101 et seq.), also known as the Areas and Activities of State Interest Act, was enacted in 1974 and allows counties and municipalities to regulate a wide variety of areas and development activities, including new or major extensions of water projects. The purpose of 1041 Regulations is to mitigate the environmental and socio-economic impacts of a designated matter of state interest.

In accordance with statutory requirements, local governments adopt permit procedures and regulations which are tailored to protecting the resources and interests of their communities. Development may only proceed if in line with the 1041 regulations. After designating a matter of state interest in a public hearing, no development in a designated area, and no designated activity can proceed without a local government permit.

Typically, a 1041 permit application for a water project calls for adequate information to assess the impacts of and determine if the water project will satisfy the criteria in the regulations. The regulations address such concerns as impacts to wildlife, local government service delivery, land use, and the environment. However, 1041 does not give local governments the power to prohibit water projects. It simply allows local governments to require that a project complies with local regulations before construction is able to start. If an applicant fails to prove that the project satisfies the regulations, then the permit may be denied or conditioned. Only one permit for a water project has ever been denied by a local government. See QQ History page for more information on transmountain diversions and 1041 permitting (or describe in our work below).

QQ project, 2016: Local 1041 permit criteria and application, as compared to other federal and state permits and application materials.

In 2016, QQ developed a spreadsheet that compares federal and state permitting of water-related projects to example elements of 1041 permits. The document demonstrates that, while 1041 application materials generally do not require burdensome additional information from a permittee, a local government is able to examine additional information about the social, land use, and environmental impacts of a project in determining whether a project meets 1041 regulations.

Oil and Gas and Local Authority

In recent years, the State and the oil and gas industry have most often challenged local authority to regulate for water quality protections relating to oil and gas development. QQ has participated written an amicus brief, participated in rulemakings before the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), and monitored relevant legislation relating to local authority to regulate oil and gas development.
Fort Collins vs. COGA. Amicus brief, 2015.
QQ participated as a party in the 2015-16 COGCC Rulemaking to enact the recommendations from the Governor’s Oil and Gas Taskforce, convened in 2015.

Model Land Use Standards for Water Quality Protection

In 2017, QQ is working on updating its 1999 Model Land Use Standards for Water Quality Protection. This model code is the result of a review of QQ local government land use codes as well as other jurisdictions such as Tahoe Region, Nevada and California; Salt Lake City, Utah; Denver, Colorado; and Truckee, California. While the model standards are specifically for the QQ region, they are the only existing model standards for water quality in the State.

Land Use and Water Workshops

QQ has hosted workshops for members and others statewide on better integrate water management and water quality into land use planning.
2014 Water and Land Use workshop outcomes summary offers a good example of the type of discussion and format of those workshops.

Statewide Dialogues

QQ members meet with elected officials and staff from other local governments around the state to talk discuss ways to strengthen and implement water quality and water conservation provisions of land use codes and plans.

QQ county commissioners and metro area county commissioners monthly for six months to discuss land use and water planning and develop comments as Colorado’s Water Plan was being developed. The resulting letter, signed by elected officials was submitted to the Colorado Water Conservation Board and included in Colorado’s Water Plan.

Legislative Monitoring

QQ monitors legislation in the Colorado General Assembly for proposed attempts to erode or eliminate local governments’ 1041 authority. Members may take positions on bills and work with a lobbyist to ensure 1041 authority is not eroded or eliminated. See policy five, influence water policy, for more information.