July 29, 2016--Denver Water CEO calls for more flexibility in water management (Aspen Daily News)

Jim Lochhead, the CEO and manager of Denver Water, said Tuesday that building new dams in the Colorado River basin is not at the top of his to-do list. Nor, for that matter, is drying up farms to provide water for Colorado’s growing cities. But he says Colorado still needs to have hard conversations about how to flexibly manage its water. In particular, he wants farmers to be able to share water with Denver and other cities without worrying that they may lose their water rights. Speaking at the annual Western Water Symposium at Colorado State University, Lochhead credited the 2015 Colorado Water Plan as being a useful “compendium of the issues” but said it highlighted relatively easy solutions without fully addressing the harder challenges. “I don’t think the solution is $20 billion of new water projects for Colorado, but that’s an easy thing to go look for,” said Lochhead, head of the state’s largest water utility that supplies 1.4 million people, and stores nearly 40 percent of its water in Summit County’s Dillon Reservoir. A coordinated plan is needed, Lochhead said. “We’re not there yet with the state water plan to develop any kind of coordinated principle vision for the future, much less how to get there,” he said. Lochhead, who took the helm of Denver water in 2010, described Colorado’s historical approach to water as a zero-sum game where there had to be a winner and a loser. That zero-sum game lost its moorings in the second half of 20th century as a result of new federal and state laws, court decisions and political fights, Lochhead said. He said that two decades have brought more collaboration between diverse interests, including those on both sides of the Continental Divide. To view the full article visit the Apsen Daily News.