A curious crowd of more than 60 people gathered Monday at Denver Water’s Administration Building for the ceremonial opening of a time capsule sealed 40 years ago when the building was dedicated in 1978.
The time capsule, in the form of a shiny, silver fire hydrant nestled in a planter near the main doors, was to be opened on Denver Water’s 100th Anniversary: Aug. 6, 2018.
That was 100 years to the day after Denver residents in 1918 voted to create a five-member Board of Water Commissioners, which culminated in the creation of Denver Water, an organization that today employs 1,100 people who deliver clean, safe, reliable drinking water for 1.4 million people in Denver and some surrounding suburbs.
“This is an exciting day for us, a lifetime opportunity to celebrate Denver Water’s 100th anniversary. It’s been a proud and rich 100 years,” Jim Lochhead, Denver Water’s CEO/Manager, said at the ceremony.
The crowd included current and former Denver Water employees — some of whom were on hand to see the time capsule sealed 40 years ago at the building’s dedication on Aug. 6, 1978.
“The new building was pretty amazing at the time,” recalled Douglas Hein a few days before the ceremony. Hein worked for Denver Water from 1971 until he retired in 1998 from the engineering records department.
Hein said before moving into the current Administration Building, he had been working out of what’s now the McNichols Civic Center Building at the northwest corner of Civic Center Park, which dates to 1909.
“We were crammed in there with our drafting tables. This facility (at the current operations complex) was so much brighter and cleaner and roomier,” Hein said.
Alan Crouch, senior hydraulics engineer for Denver Water, who started full-time in the engineering division in the spring of 1978, remembered a similarly big crowd of people watching the time capsule’s sealing ceremony.
“I know it was quite a big deal to see the big chrome fire hydrant. I’m interested to see what comes out of the capsule,” he said a few days before the ceremony took place.
Among the items sealed into the capsule in 1978 were predictions of what the future would hold.
The predictions included one from Hein: “That by the year 2018 the Denver Water Department will no longer be set up under the Denver City Charter but will instead become a regional water district with a Board of Directors made up of representatives from throughout the Metropolitan Denver area.”
Hein chuckled at the prediction, saying it sounded somewhat familiar and noted that it’s become partially true.
While Denver Water today remains part of the city’s structure, the organization is involved in partnerships that span the metro area.
One of them, the Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency partnership, known as WISE, started flowing water in 2017. The partnership includes Denver Water, Aurora Water and 10 members of the South Metro Water Supply Authority which serve water to communities in Arapahoe and Douglas counties including Castle Rock, Highlands Ranch and Parker.
The time capsule opened Monday also included proclamations from Denver Mayor William McNichols Jr., who served from 1968 to 1983, and Colorado Gov. Richard Lamm, who served from 1975 to 1987.
McNichols proclaimed the week Aug. 6-12, 1978, to be “Better Water for the People Week,” and urged “all citizens to become more aware of the activities of the Denver Water Department and its importance to this community.” Lamm also hailed the importance of the importance of community water utilities and called for the week to be “Better Water for Colorado Week.”
Lochhead, at Monday’s ceremony, read highlights of new proclamations from Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper that declared the day to be “Denver Water Day” in Denver and statewide.
Hancock and Hickenlooper hailed the organization’s stewardship of water, “this critical natural resource,” and its dedication to ensuring a “reliable and environmentally sustainable water supply for today and the future, through practicing and encouraging efficient water use, water reuse and the discovery of new water supply options.”
Lochhead said plans are underway to create a new time capsule that will be part of the process of moving into the new Administration Building currently under construction. The building also will have an area where the names of every employee who’s work at Denver Water will be inscribed, he said.
“We continue to have our eyes on the future as we honor the legacy of the employees who worked here in the past,” Lochhead said.
“These projects and others will position Denver Water for our next 100 years of service to our customers, the environment and our partners statewide,” he said.