Colorado passed Regulation 85 in 2012 to reduce nutrient pollution in lakes, rivers, and streams.

Regulation 85 does not currently regulate agriculture, but recommends voluntary action to avoid future regulation after 2022.

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What Can Ag Do Before 2022?

Regulation 85 emphasizes that best management practices (BMPs) be voluntarily implemented.  The effectiveness of this approach will be periodically evaluated before and reviewed in 2022.

Agriculture must be an active participant and demonstrate progress. Producers are encouraged to:



What is Regulation 85?


Regulation 85 is also known as the “Nutrients Management Control Regulation.”  In 2012, Colorado passed Regulation 85, along with Regulation 31, to address nitrogen, phosphorus, and chlorophyll a in surface water in accordance with the Clean Water Act.

Whom does Regulation 85 regulate?


Regulation 85 specifically regulates “point sources” of nutrient discharge, such as wastewater treatment plants, by setting discharge limits and requiring monitoring to better define nutrient levels.  This information will be used to inform future regulatory decisions.

Does Regulation 85 impact agriculture?


Regulation 85 does not currently regulate “nonpoint sources” of nutrient discharge, which includes most agriculture.  But Regulation 85 does identify agriculture’s role in managing nutrient pollution and encourages voluntary adoption of best management practices.

Future state regulations will depend on agriculture’s ability to voluntarily demonstrate commitment to water quality protection.

Why should agriculture be concerned about Regulation 85?


The management of nonpoint sources is considered an essential part of water quality protection. If voluntary efforts are determined to be ineffective by the year 2022, more stringent regulations may be adopted.


How can agriculture influence Regulation 85?



Producers can influence what happens next by educating themselves on Regulation 85, implementing effective best management practices, taking part in water quality monitoring projects, and participating in regulation hearings and meetings

Do other states regulate nutrients in water quality?


Yes. Across the United States, agriculture is being cited as a significant source of nutrient pollution in water quality.

What is the difference between surface water and groundwater?


Surface water is generally considered to be water on the surface of the earth, such as in rivers, streams, lakes, reservoirs, wetlands, and the ocean. Surface water can be contrasted with groundwater, which is subsurface water that saturates underground formations and aquifers. However, the two water systems are interrelated. Regulation 85 regulates Colorado’s surface waters.

What is a “point source” of discharge or pollution?


A “point source” is a single, identifiable source of discharge such as a pipe, drain, ditch, or confined animal feeding operation (CAFO).

What is a “nonpoint source (NPS)” of discharge or pollution?


Nonpoint source (NPS) discharge is diffuse, or distributed over a wide area, and therefore difficult to pinpoint. Examples include agriculture, urban stormwater runoff, and forestry.

What is nutrient pollution?


Nutrient pollution is a widespread national challenge that is caused by excess nitrogen and phosphorus in the water and air. Nutrients are a natural part of the ecosystem. But a wide range of human activities can cause too much nitrogen and phosphorus to enter the water and air.

What is chlorophyll a?


Chlorophyll is a green pigment in plants, algae, and some bacteria that allows plants to do the process of photosynthesis. Chlorophyll “a” is the predominant type of chlorophyll found in green plants and algae and a measure of the amount of algae growing in a waterbody.

What are best management practices (BMPs)?


Best management practices, or BMPs, are recommended structures, methods, and practices designed to protect water quality.  BMPs can provide environmental, agronomic, and economic benefits.

The cost, economic return, ease of implementation, and overall effectiveness will vary from practice to practice.  Recommended BMPs may include already widely accepted and utilized agricultural practices.

Every farm is unique and requires a particular combination of practices that meets the needs of the land and the producer.