The Summit Water Quality Committee (SWQC) is comprised of local governmental entities in Summit County and was formalized by intergovernmental agreement in 1984. It was formed initially to address an emerging eutrophication problem in Dillon Reservoir. (Eutrophication is an excessive richness of nutrients in a lake or other body of water, frequently due to runoff from the land, which causes a dense growth of plant life and death of animal life from lack of oxygen.)
From its inception, the SWQC recognized the link between land use and pollution control and has implemented various strategies to prevent eutrophication that rely largely on the regulatory authorities and special pollution control expertise of its members.
Even after 30 years of growth and development in the Blue River watershed, pollution in Dillon Reservoir is minimized. This success is largely through early adoption of an innovative program emphasizing a coordinated approach to the control of both point and nonpoint sources of phosphorus based on the bubble theory of pollution control, whereby the total pollution load to a water body is considered rather than individual sources. The Dillon model for pollution control was one of the first and most successful examples of pollution trading implemented in the United States. The SWQC’s adaptive management approach has resulted in multiple projects and initiatives.
More recently the SWQC has become involved in other issues like abandoned mine clean-up projects, fisheries improvement studies, watershed focused control of erosion from construction sites, and proper disposal of unused pharmaceuticals and personal care products. SWQC’s primary focus has always been on providing definitive environmental assessments in the Blue River watershed and much of this comes from a long-standing relationship with the University of Colorado Center for Limnology.
Relationship to NWCCOG. SWQC was initiated by NWCCOG in the 1980’s and has been staffed by Watershed Services personnel since its inception. This cooperative approach helps bring down overhead costs for both programs. SWQC also benefits from the larger, more statewide focus provided through NWCCOG and QQ in particular.