A Denver perspective on the year’s biggest water issues

Today's water issues — and tomorrow's — require 'collaboration' and 'adaptation,' Denver Water’s Jim Lochhead says.

February 10, 2015 | By: Steve Snyder
In February 2014, Jim Lochhead (left) stood with James Eklund, Colorado Water Conservation Board director, and Karen Stiegelmeier, Summit County Commissioner, to celebrate the Colorado River Cooperative Agreement.
In February 2014, Jim Lochhead (left) stood with James Eklund, Colorado Water Conservation Board director, and Karn Stiegelmeier, Summit County Commissioner, to celebrate the Colorado River Cooperative Agreement.

Water is our business, so we pay careful attention to any water-related stories that are published. Recently, the Huffington Post posted “The 10 Most Important Water Stories in 2014,” listing the issues people should pay attention to surrounding this most critical natural resource. It comes as no surprise that many of the national and international issues identified in the story are also top of mind in our day-to-day operations at Denver Water.

With that in mind, we asked Denver Water CEO and Manager Jim Lochhead to talk about what he thought were some key takeaways regarding water issues in 2014 from a Denver Water perspective.

“In my mind, two words summarize where our focus was in 2014 and will be moving forward,” Lochhead said. “Those words are collaboration and adaptation.”

“From a collaboration standpoint, we can’t approach our water issues with an ‘us vs. them’ mentality,” he said. “Whether we are looking at challenges within our own state or those occurring across the Colorado River Basin or beyond, our solutions should not be guided by the same politics and parochialism that have marked past decades. We must work together to find sustainable solutions that work for all parties involved.”

Lochhead cited the Colorado River System Conservation Program, the Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency partnership (WISE), the Grand County Mitigation and Enhancement Coordination Plan, and the State Water Plan as examples of collaborative efforts Denver Water was involved in last year, working with multiple, diverse stakeholders to find solutions for water challenges.

And what about 2015?

“Adaptation will be critical to us moving forward,” Lochhead continued. “The past is no longer a reliable predictor of the future, so we have to be adaptable and flexible in our long-term visioning. Whether it’s dealing with the impacts of climate change, working with the flexibility we have in transferring ownership of water resources, or planning for future growth and development, we have to adapt to the conditions in which we are working.”

Read the complete story on HuffPost Green.

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