Outstanding waters

  A. Designated

  1. Eight of the 42 trout-bearing streams, or reaches within them, have been designated Colorado Outstanding Waters [1] status prior to 2022:

  • Coal, the headwaters portion inside Lizard Head Wilderness Area

  • Kilpacker, which is inside Lizard Head Wilderness Area

  • Little Taylor

  • Meadow, the headwaters portion inside Lizard Head Wilderness Area

  • Rio Lado

  • Slate, the headwaters portion inside Lizard Head Wilderness Area

  • Spring

  • West Fork, the headwaters portion inside Lizard Head Wilderness Area

2. The process for designation is described in Rule 31 [2] and is briefly sketched below.

    Waters | Forecast | Expectations | Group 

Streams proposed as Outstanding Waters

Dolores.jpg

  B. Approvals

  1. Nine more streams, or reaches, have been proposal as Outstanding Waters, as shown in the map above:

  • Bear, upstream of private property

  • Coal, from Lizard Head Wilderness Area to its confluence with the Dolores River

  • East Fork

  • Priest

  • Slate, from Lizard Head Wilderness Area to its confluence with the Dolores River

  • Snow Spur

  • Stoner, upstream of private property

  • West Fork, from Lizard Head Wilderness Area to Burro Bridge

  • Wildcat

2. Colorado recently (June 2022) has determined that 8 of those 9 streams qualify as Outstanding Waters.

3. The exception is the West Fork reach, for which OW status currently has not been approved.

  C. Process

  1. Outstanding Waters designation is made through evaluation by the Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC)...

  2. Of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE)...

  3. Over a 3-year process that includes 3 public hearings [3].

  4. Waters designated are required to be maintained and protected at their existing, high water quality.

  5. Only temporary degradation is allowed for a long-term ecological, water quality, or public interest benefit.

  6. The candidate streams for proposal are known to host cutthroat trout, a native, protected species.

  7. Cutthroat conservation is important in Colorado and is expected to figure in designation of Outstanding Waters.

  8. The candidate streams are identified in red in the map below [4].

  9. The red dots mark the locations of sampling sites for the field and laboratory measurements of water quality.

  10. The results of analyses of 7 metals and 5 non-metals are necessary as part of the evaluation by WQCC.

  11. Those analyses must be from sampling in each of the 4 seasons of the year.

  12. The metals are dissolved cadmium, copper, lead, manganese, selenium, silver, and zinc.

  13. The 5 non-metals parameters are pH, dissolved oxygen, E. coli, nitrate, and ammonia.

  14. Here are Metals and Non-metals results for the 9 candidate streams, along with Findings from data examination.

References

  1. Code of Federal Regulations, Water Quality Control Commission, 5 CCR 1002-34, Regulation No. 34, "Classifications and Numeric Standards for the San Juan River and Dolores River Basins" (Rule 34).

  2. Code of Federal Regulations, Water Quality Control Commission, 5 CCR 1002-31, Regulation No, 31, "The Basic Standards and Methodologies for Surface Water" (Rule 31).

  3. https://cdphe.colorado.gov/wqcc-public-participation

  4. Map source: Scott Roberts, Mountain Studies Institute, MSI, Durango, CO.

    Waters | Forecast | Expectations | Group