Peak & Prairie

Rocky Mountain Chapter's
Online Newsletter
February / March 1998



What We Do For Clean Water:
1997 Water Quality Committee Activities

by Kirk Cunningham, Chair

The Water Quality Committee truly "covers the waterfront." We deal in principle with any issue that is addressed by the Clean Water Act, ranging from pollution discharge permits for the health and protection of wetlands, to the planning and collaboration that is necessary to protect watersheds.

The Committee consists of active members and technical or legal consultants, and has had three major projects this past year, which will continue to be important in 1998.

First, we have sent representatives to the regular meetings of the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission, the Water Quality Forum (a stakeholders' group), to the Colorado Non-Point Task Force, and the Colorado TMDL Task Force. Fortunately, some of our members are retired or otherwise have flexible work schedules that allow them to attend these work-day meetings.

Second, we are involved in a legal action directed toward the EPA. This action addresses the "audit privilege" law that permits polluters to hide from prosecution behind pollution self-audits and negatively impacts the state's water quality program. We are asking the EPA to pressure the State to amend their audit privilege law or suffer loss of their delegated water quality program. This issue should be settled in 1998.

Third, we have sponsored a number of work outings to remove exotic weed species from, and plant native trees in, wetlands on the Wheat Ridge Greenbelt Park on Clear Creek, and the Sawhill Ponds Open Space in Boulder. Betty Jo Page has been the leader of that effort.

In addition, we birddogged pollution discharge and wetland disturbance permits in Colorado, settled successfully a lawsuit (brought by lawyer John Barth) against a hog processing facility in Longmont that was illegally discharging storm water into St. Vrain Creek, and gave some instruction in monitoring stream health to "eco-system mappers" in Jean Smith's National Forest mapping program.

The Committee can easily use more volunteers. If your interest extends to protecting streams and wetlands and if you either have specialized knowledge or are interested in learning and doing in this issue area, call me, Kirk Cunningham, at (303) 939-8519.