Denver Water leader leaves organization, community prepared for future challenges.
A towering figure. Innovative. Creative. A champion. A mentor.
Those are just some of the words used to describe Jim Lochhead, the CEO/Manager of Denver Water who officially stepped down on Aug. 4, 2023, from that role after leading the state’s largest water provider for 13 years.
In December 2022, Lochhead announced his intention to step away from leading the utility responsible for providing a reliable, safe water supply to about 25% of Colorado’s population.
Lochhead will be missed, both inside Denver Water and beyond, according to those who worked with him on Denver Water projects, on initiatives linking water, education and agriculture, and on efforts to address challenges related to the drought-stricken Colorado River and a warming climate.
“Jim set us up well to meet the challenges of the future. He left a legacy, and we are indebted to him for his visionary leadership. He will be missed at Denver Water, across the community he served, and by the people he worked with in Colorado and across the West,” said Julie Anderson, Denver Water’s chief of staff.
Lochhead is known for his expertise on issues surrounding the Colorado River, which provides about half of Denver Water’s water supply and is crucial to the lives of 40 million people living across the Southwest that rely on the river for drinking water and electricity.
“Jim loves the Colorado River. I think it is in his essence. Everything he does is focused on making sure the river is going to be OK,” said Becky Mitchell, Colorado’s Commissioner and representative on the Upper Colorado River Commission that’s charged with negotiating policy surrounding use of the water in the river.
During his 13 years at Denver Water, Lochhead championed a wide range of initiatives, including:
- The expansion of Gross Reservoir northwest of Denver.
- The replacement of tens of thousands of old lead service lines to protect customers from the risk of lead in drinking water.
- The redevelopment of the utility’s century-old Operations Complex southwest of downtown Denver.
- The construction of the state-of-the-art Northwater Treatment Plant north of Golden.
- The ongoing work to improve and maintain infrastructure throughout the system.
The board announced in June that Alan Salazar would take over the role from Lochhead. Salazar, most recently the chief of staff for former Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, has more than 30 years of experience in the public sector, working in both the legislative and executive branches of federal, state and local governments.
Lochhead spoke highly of the board’s decision, noting he’d worked with Salazar for more than 30 years in various roles.
“I’ve always admired his integrity, his deep policy knowledge and his commitment to public service, which has positioned him as one of the great leaders in this state,” Lochhead said of the June announcement.
The above information and photo were provided by Denver Water. Click the following link for the full article which includes videos.
Source: Denver Water Tap – Jim Lochhead’s legacy stretches across decades