Colorado Faces Big Problem with Delayed Water Permits


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Aug 26, 2023
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The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is struggling with a big delay in processing Clean Water Act permits. Currently, only 33 percent of the permits for discharging fluids from wastewater plants and factories into streams are up to date. This backlog is causing trouble for keeping waterways safe.

Companies whose permits have expired are unsure about future environmental rules and costs. This makes it hard for them to make plans for growth or changes because their permits do not follow the latest environmental rules.

The state lawmakers have sanctioned an additional $2.4 million to the department, however, the department can use this money until June 2025. Therefore, the department has to come up with a new plan to keep the permit updated.

Check the detailed article here
Colorado, United States
The significant delay in processing Clean Water Act permits by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is concerning. With only 33 percent of permits for discharging fluids from wastewater plants and factories into streams being up to date, it is clear that there is a backlog causing trouble for maintaining the safety of waterways. This situation is especially problematic for companies whose permits have expired, as they are uncertain about future environmental rules and costs. Without updated permits, it becomes challenging for these companies to plan for growth or make necessary changes. Although an additional $2.4 million has been sanctioned by state lawmakers, the department can only use this funding until June 2025, requiring them to develop a new plan to address the issue and ensure that permits are kept up to date.
For anyone not familiar, the Clean Water Act permits discussed by Nomad above are commonly known as National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits. NPDES permits are generally issued by states pursuant to Section 402 of the Clean Water Act. In 47 states (e.g., Colorado), a state agency (e.g., Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment) is responsible for issuing NPDES permits, which authorize the discharge of pollutants into that state's surface waters.

It was interesting to learn that "expiration" of a NPDES permit doesn't mean that the permit is no longer active. It appears that, in Colorado at least, a permit's "expiration" is sort of advisory and permit requirements will continue to apply after expiration unless the state agency reviews and takes some other action. I believe this is generally how NPDES permits work, but I do wonder whether this "extension by default" mechanism is different (e.g., stricter, with the permit expiring outright) in other states.
33% is not a good number considering the situation. But, it also sounds like a majority of these companies aren't filing new permits because they fear they won't qualify for them to begin with because of future environmental rules and costs. I get that, but they should really get the ball rolling on making it right if they aren't currently following the current rules.

Colorado needs to fix their permits to where it's a requirement to re-file every time your permits are due for renewal. And if you don't, these companies need to be issues warnings and fines imo.
It is concerning seeing the delayed water permits. 33% of permits aren't good due to the situation they are in. This situation will also cause problems with other companies that have expired permits as they won't be able to make changes to their permits.
These permits need fixing otherwise this will cause more problems. There needs to be some type of requirement for people with a permit and if they don't follow the requirement, there should either be a warning or a fine handed to them.

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