Environmental Land Use and Planning

Environmental Quality participates as a partner with other City agencies in development projects to provide technical advice on matters related to environmental issues. These include review of General Development Plans (GDP),  and oversight of larger development projects with significant environmental cleanup concerns such as the Cherokee/Gates Site.

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Certain proposed industrial uses in the I-O, I-1, and I-2 zones are required to be reviewed by the department by a member of the environmental review committee after an application is submitted to the Zoning Administration for a conditional use permit. The department reviews each application based on environmental affects. Applications which are approved with conditions, become part of the zoning permit.

What types of industries may be included?

Manufacturing, processing or fabrication; Transfer stations; Automobile recycling facilities; Incinerators/crematoriums; Certain painting operations; Print shops; Chrome plating operations; Food manufacturing; and Asphalt/concrete plants.

For a complete listing of uses, please contact the Denver Department of Zoning Administration.

How are applications reviewed by the Environmental Protection Division (EPD)?

The Zoning Administration includes a questionnaire developed by the EPD to determine if State of Colorado environmental permits relating to air pollution, water pollution, and solid/hazardous waste are required for the facility. Activities involving painting, solvent use, inks, wood cutting, plastics manufacturing land disturbance, and waste generation, are those typically requiring some type of permit. In addition, those activities that generate odors and/or noise are required to comply with state regulations and/or city ordinances. Compliance with these requirements become a part of the conditional use permit.

Does the Environmental Quality Division review any other applications?

The EPD also reviews Denver Building Department permit applications and certificates of occupancy for some of the above issues. In addition, service stations with fuel storage tanks, dry cleaners, remedial projects, some construction/demolition activities, automobile body shop/repair facilities, and facilities with chemical storage tanks which may not require a conditional use permit, may require other State of Colorado permits.

Are these permits only required in the City and County of Denver?

The need to obtain State of Colorado environmental permits, is State-wide.

How do I get started?

The first step to authorizing your business in Denver is to contact the Denver Zoning Administration at (303) 640-2191. They will provide you with all the forms necessary for the various agencies to review your application. You may also contact the EQ at 720-865-5452 for information and/or additional applications needed to process your application in a timely manner.

Denver’s goals are to ensure that environmentally contaminated sites within and around Denver are cleaned up to protect the health of Denver residents and their environment, and ensure that the cleanup activities comply with Denver regulations. Program staff provide proactive oversight of the cleanup of environmentally contaminated sites in and adjacent to Denver. We work with a variety of city departments, state and federal regulatory agencies, community groups, residents, and businesses to ensure that cleanups protect public health and the environment and to ensure that regulatory requirements are met. We investigate complaints, help to identify contaminated sites, coordinate between city agencies, provide technical review of site plans and reports, interpret regulatory requirements, and attend meetings to represent the city’s and residents’ interests. 

We help to make sure that local cleanup issues are addressed by our state and federal partners in environmental protection, and by industry involved in environmental cleanup. We provide another point of contact for Denver residents and area employees to obtain information, understand issues, and answer questions regarding environmental cleanup.

The environmental cleanup sites include:

  • Hazardous waste corrective actions covered by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA);
  • Leaking underground or above-ground storage tanks;
  • Hazardous material spills;
  • Superfund actions addressed through the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) sites;
  • Solid waste cleanups and old landfills;
  • Voluntary cleanup (VCUP) sites; and
  • Brownfields sites.

The City and County of Denver owns the Denver Arapahoe Disposal Site (DADS) landfill, which is located at 3500 South Gun Club Road, Aurora, CO, just east of the intersection of Hampden Avenue and South Gun Club Road. DADS is a fully permitted subtitle D landfill and accepts municipal solid waste, construction and demolition debris, asbestos waste, and some types of industrial wastes such as coal-fired power plant fly ash and petroleum-contaminated soil.

The Division of Environmental Quality ensures that DADS operates in a manner consistent with state and federal regulations and in accordance to the operating agreement between the City and Waste Management of Colorado, Inc., who operates the landfill on the City’s behalf. 

For questions concerning hours of operation, disposal costs, and disposal requirements at DADS, please call 720-876-2620. For questions concerning the management and acceptance of industrial wastes, please call 720-977-2102.


DADS is a part of a larger tract of land deeded to the City and County of Denver in the 1960s by the federal government for the purposes of public health. The initial landfill, Lowry, operated through 1990. In 1990, the DADS landfill began operations and continues to operate today as the largest landfill in Colorado and one of the largest in the country. DADS accepts on average 6,500 tons of waste per day or about 2 million tons per year.

Compatible and sustainable practices and services have been and continue to be incorporated into the DADS property. These uses are offered through the City and Waste Management, Waste Management only, or third parties. Over 7 million shredded tires that were collected during the 1960s and 1970s were used as tire-derived fuel in the early 2000s. The landfill gas to energy plant generates enough electricity to power about 2,000 homes per year. There is also a drop off area for household and some construction recyclable material, an area for concrete and asphalt recycling, and a composting facility.


The City and County of Denver encourages reduce, reuse, and recycling both within Denver and in the surrounding communities. Denver residents can obtain information concerning recycling and household hazardous waste services at Denver Recycles.

Additionally, recycling drop off of the following materials is available at DADS: Asphalt Shingles, Electronic Waste, Scrap Metal, Single Stream, White Goods, and Whole Tires. Fees apply to some material. Please call 720-876-2620 for details.


The City and County of Denver also encourages waste reduction through composting, whether through backyard composting, drop off programs, or contracted services.

Compostable material, such as food waste, yard clippings, and clean lumber, may also be taken to DADS for processing into compost product. Please call 720-876-2620 for fees and details.  


The City and County of Denver and Waste Management are dedicated to ensuring that the landfill protects the environment by monitoring groundwater through a network of groundwater monitoring wells, operating a landfill gas collection system, and screening waste received to make sure that no regulated hazardous waste is landfilled. These are just a few of the environmental management efforts undertaken at DADS to protect the environment.


For further information regarding the DADS landfill, contact:
Diane DeLillio, Project Manager

The Department of Environmental Health's GIS Program is an Agency GIS within the City and County of Denver, which handles all GIS data, application development, spatial analysis, and cartography related to environmental sciences and City environmental health issues.

The GIS Program has a long history of GIS application in the Environmental Quality Division of DEH. The program began in 1994 and one of its main focuses is to allow GIS access to all users regardless of their technical knowledge. To achieve this we create many custom tools and GUI interfaces to allow users to access environmental GIS data as well as related electronic documents, including scanned images of historic maps and documents that relate to specific sites of interest. These include sites undergoing environmental assessment and remediation. Using GIS has helped to radically cut costs and improve the efficiency of the audit process. Where it once took 2-6 weeks to conduct such an audit, it now takes a matter of just hours to complete a preliminary assessment.

The GIS Program assists all agencies within DEH with their GIS work, as well as other departments that are working on spatial projects with an environmental component. An example of a program-specific GIS includes “GIS Plays a Major Role Tracking Animals”, which is detailed below.

GIS Plays a Major Role Tracking Animals
Where are the rats, bats, prairie dogs, mosquitoes and raccoons in the City of Denver? The City and County of Denver’s Animal Control Division knows the answer to this question.

In 2000, the Environmental Quality Division’s GIS Program and the Animal Care & Control Division formed a partnership to see how GIS could help with the vector control work. EQ hired a consultant and implemented the creation of the ArcView GIS Vector Control Program for tracking rat and mosquito breeding sites, changes in prairie dog colonies, and locations of bats and raccoons picked up by animal control officers.

Before the GIS program was implemented, mosquito sites, such as detention ponds, mosquito pools, and river and ditch breeding areas, were typically found by driving around the city and looking for probable animal areas. When animals or breeding areas were found hand written cards for each animal site were documented.

With GIS, animal breeding areas can be pin-pointed prior to field surveying using GIS base map data to locate favorable breeding locations, which are then field verified. If an animal is picked up by control officers, its source is located on GIS base maps by geo-coding its pick up address, and pertinent data about each animal and site is entered into the GIS database.

Since 2000, the Animal Care & Control Division’s Vector Control Program has mapped the boundaries of prairie dog colonies in and around the City of Denver. Each April, the division uses the Environmental Quality Division’s Trimble GPS unit to collect accurate data on the extent of these colonies. Before the use of GIS at the Animal Care & Control Division, there were no reliable methods to track the changes in size of city prairie dog colonies or when they were eliminated. Utilizing GIS mapping and reporting capabilities, these data can now be used to understand the distribution and annual change of prairie dog colonies in the Metro Area. Information can easily be provided to officials in the case of local Plague outbreaks.
With new Arboviruses (arthropod-borne viruses), such as West Nile Encephalitis, showing up in the United States, and possibly moving into Colorado, the need to track these and other diseases will increase in the future. The use of GIS will most certainly play a role in accurately doing this.

The Animal Care & Control Division also uses GIS to map the type and location of all the pet care facilities in Denver. This information is invaluable when questions arise from the public about what facilities are available in their area of the City.

More DEH GIS Projects in the Works
GIS tools are being used and developed for a variety of projects that span many DEH programs. Projects include Brownfield mapping, Lowry site studies, facilities permitting, facility compliance inspections, HIV Resources, Healthy People 2010, and historical landfill monitoring.