CWCB names water mavens to management workgroups |

CWCB names water mavens to management workgroups

Brent Gardner-Smith
Aspen Journalism

The Colorado Water Conservation Board on Monday released the names of the 74 people it has asked to volunteer on eight workgroups being formed to investigate how a demand-management program might work in the state.

The list of people asked to serve reads like something of a who’s who of Colorado water mavens, and they will be helping the CWCB investigate what’s billed as a “voluntary, temporary and compensated” demand-management — or water-use reduction — program in the state.

The workgroup meetings, which the CWCB considers similar to staff meetings, are to be closed to the public and the media, although their findings are expected to eventually be made public and brought to the CWCB’s board of directors for discussion.

The workgroups, as currently configured, include Andy Mueller, the general manager of the Colorado River Water Conservation District; Jim Lochhead, the CEO of Denver Water; Mely Whiting, an attorney for Trout Unlimited on Colorado river issues; Kathy Chandler-Henry, an Eagle County commissioner; Doug Kemper, the executive director of the Colorado Water Congress; Mark Harris, the general manager of the Grand Valley Water Users Association; and many other notable water managers and experts.

The workgroups are divided by the following topics: law and policy; monitoring and verification; water-rights administration and accounting; environmental considerations; economic considerations and local government; funding; education and outreach; and agricultural impacts.

A ninth workgroup, on tribal interests, was to be formed, according to a CWCB staff presentation at the agency’s meeting in May, but a tribal workgroup was not included on the workgroup roster released Monday.

The Colorado River Water Conservation District, which is based in Glenwood Springs and represents Western Slope water interests, has five of its employees on five different workgroups.

They are Mueller, who also is an attorney, on the law and policy workgroup; John Currier, the district’s chief engineer, on the monitoring and verification workgroup; Chris Treese, the district’s external affairs manager, on the economic considerations and local government workgroup; Jim Pokrandt, director of community affairs, on the education and outreach workgroup; and Dave Kanzer, deputy chief engineer, on the agricultural impacts workgroup.

Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and New Mexico are each developing demand-management programs after a series of drought contingency-planning, or DCP, agreements were signed last month by representatives of those four states and the three lower-basin states of California, Arizona and Nevada.

The DCP agreements give the four upper-basin states an opportunity to store as many as 500,000 acre-feet of water in Lake Powell, and three other federal reservoirs in the upper basin, to use as insurance against violating the Colorado River Compact of 1922.

The water in the new demand-management pool must be water that otherwise would have been consumed by fields, pastures, lawns and other uses, but instead has been sent down the river system to be stored.

Before any of the demand-management programs can be launched in the four upper-basin states, they each need to be approved by the Upper Colorado River Commission, which includes representatives from the four states and the federal government.

The commission will hold a demand-management stakeholder workshop in Salt Lake City on June 21. The workshop will be open to the public.

The CWCB plans to hold a series of public demand-management workshops — as opposed to the closed workgroups — throughout the state this year.

Despite the closed-door workgroup meetings, the CWCB plans to hold an orientation webinar in July for the workgroup members that also will be open to the public.

The roster of the invited workgroup participants from the CWCB was slated to be released by June 1, but the effort was delayed after a six-page draft confidentiality agreement that was circulated by the state raised concerns among some of the potential workgroup members.

“We heard from multiple people that it was more than was necessary to achieve the goal of being able to have open conversation, and so we really took those words to heart,” CWCB director Becky Mitchell said of the first confidentiality agreement. “After some reflection, we realized that was just not the direction we wanted to go. So we’re taking a good hard look at that.”

An update sent out last week by CWCB staff said the agency was now “considering an approach that will entail a simpler and less restrictive agreement between the parties.”

Mitchell said the next version of the agreement will be closer to one page, not six pages.

The confidentiality agreements are seen by the CWCB as necessary to create “an environment for frank, candid and open discussions,” according to a recent memo to the workgroup participants.

But the confidentiality agreements are also meant to try to keep confidential some of the information provided by the state to the members of the workgroups.

Aspen Journalism covers water and rivers in collaboration with The Aspen Times. More at

CWCB’s Demand-Management Workgroups

Law and Policy

Facilitator: Karen Kwon, First Assistant Attorney General, Colorado

Staff Support: Brent Newman, Chief, Interstate, Federal and Water Information Section, CWCB; Amy Ostdiek, Assistant Attorney General, Colorado

Workgroup members: Andy Mueller, General Manager, Colorado River District; Jim Lochhead, CEO/Manager, Denver Water; Bennett Raley, Attorney at Trout Raley, representing Northern Water; John McClow, General Counsel, Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District; Taylor Hawes, Colorado River Program Director, The Nature Conservancy; Anne Castle, Senior Fellow, Getches-Wilkinson Center, University of Colorado; Beth Van Vurst, Attorney at Fairfield and Woods, representing Southwestern Water Conservation District; Lee Miller, General Counsel, Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District

Monitoring and Verification

Facilitator: Michelle Garrison, Water Resources Specialist, CWCB

Support: Brian Macpherson, Decision Support Systems Specialist, CWCB

Workgroup members: Kelley Thompson, Lead Modeler, Colorado Division of Water Resources; John Currier, Chief Engineer, Colorado River District; Kevin Lusk, Principal Engineer, Colorado Springs Utilities; Tom Simpson, Manager, Colorado and Arkansas Basins, Aurora Water; Luke Gingrich, Western Colorado Area Manager, J-U-B Engineers Inc.; Laura Belanger, Water Resources and Environmental Engineer, Western Resource Advocates; Perry Cabot, Research Scientist and Extension Specialist, Colorado State University; Cary Denison, Gunnison Basin Project Coordinator, Trout Unlimited; Gerry Knapp, Consultant, Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District; Robert Sakata, Owner, Sakata Farms; Carrie Padgett, Engineer, Harris Water Engineering

Water-Rights Administration and Accounting

Facilitator: Lain Leoniak, Assistant Attorney General, Colorado

Support: Mike Sullivan, Deputy Director, Colorado Division of Water Resources; Kevin Rein, State Engineer, Colorado Division of Water Resources; Ryan Gilliom, Water Resource Scientist, Colorado School of Mines

Workgroup members: Frank Kugel, General Manager, Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District; Rick Marsicek, Planning Manager, Denver Water; Drew Peternell, Colorado Director, Trout Unlimited; Kyle Whitaker, Colorado River Programs Manager, Northern Water; Dick Wolfe, retired Colorado state engineer; Steve Witte, retired Division 2 engineer; Cleave Simpson, General Manager, Rio Grande Water Conservation District

Environmental Considerations

Facilitators: Lauren Ris, Deputy Director, CWCB; Linda Bassi, Chief, Stream and Lake Protection Section, CWCB

Support: Brandy Logan, Hydrologist, CWCB; Jojo La, Endangered Species Policy Specialist, CWCB

Workgroup members: Kathy Kitzman, Water Resources Principal, Aurora Water; Maria Pastore, Senior Water Resources Project Manager, Colorado Springs Utilities; Melinda Kassen, Senior Counsel, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership; Abby Burk, Western Rivers Regional Program Manager, Audubon Rockies; Matt Rice, Director, Colorado Basin Program, American Rivers; David Graf, Water Resource Specialist, Colorado Parks and Wildlife; Al Pfister, Wildlife Biologist, Western Wildscapes, LLC; Torie Jarvis, Director, Northwest Colorado Council of Governors, Water Quality/Quantity Committee; Mely Whiting, Colorado Water Project Legal Counsel, Trout Unlimited; Karen Wogsland, Director of Programs, Colorado Water Trust

Economic Considerations and Local Government

Facilitator: Amy Moyer

Support: Amy Ostdiek, Assistant Attorney General, Colorado

Workgroup members: Chris Treese, External Affairs Manager, Colorado River District; Alexandra Davis, Deputy Director Water Resources, Aurora Water; Seth Clayton, Executive Director, Pueblo Water; Sean Cronin, Executive Director, St. Vrain and Left Hand Water Conservancy District; Kathy Chandler‐Henry, Eagle County Commissioner; Barbara Biggs, General Manager, Roxborough Water and Sanitation District; Steven Ruddell, Forester and Environmental Economist, CarbonVerde, LLC; Patti Wells, former general counsel, Denver Water, former CWCB board member; Liesel Hans, Water Conservation Manager, City of Fort Collins; Karn Stiegelmeier, Summit County Commissioner; Kelly Romero‐Heaney, Water Resources Manager, City of Steamboat Springs


Facilitator: Anna Mauss, Chief Operating Officer, CWCB

Support: Russ Sands, Senior Program Manager, Water Supply Planning, CWCB

Workgroup members: Ted Kowalski, Colorado River Initiative Lead and Senior Program Officer, Walton Family Foundation; Dave Bennett, Director of Water Resource Strategy, Denver Water; Pat Wells, General Manager of Water Resources and Demand Management, Colorado Springs Utilities; Aaron Citron, Policy Adviser, The Nature Conservancy; Dick Brown, Economist; Keith McLaughlin, Finance Director, Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority; Alan Matlosz, Executive Vice President, Colorado Public Finance Group, George K. Baum & Co.

Education and Outreach

Facilitator: Brent Newman, Chief, Interstate, Federal and Water Information Section, CWCB

Support: Megan Holcomb, Program Manager, Water Supply Planning Section, CWCB

Workgroup members: Jim Pokrandt, Director of Community Affairs, Colorado River District; Todd Hartman, Media Relations Coordinator, Denver Water; Chris Woodka, Issues Management Coordinator, Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District; Andy Schultheiss, Executive Director, Colorado Water Trust; Hannah Holm, Coordinator, Water Center, Colorado Mesa University; Doug Kemper, Executive Director, Colorado Water Congress; Laura Spann, Program Coordinator, Southwestern Water Conservation Director; Lisa Darling, Executive Director, South Metro Water Supply Authority

Agricultural Impacts

Facilitator: Alex Funk, Agricultural Water Resources Specialist, CWCB

Support: Andrew Rickert, Program Associate, CWCB; Erik Skeie, Special Project Coordinator, CWCB

Workgroup members: Dave Kanzer, Deputy Chief Engineer, Colorado River District; Alan Ward, Water Resources Division Manager, Pueblo Water; Eric Wilkinson, former general manager, Northern Water; John Stulp, former water-policy adviser to Colorado’s governor; Cindy Lair, Program Manager, State Conservation Board, Colorado Department of Agriculture; Mark Harris, General Manager, Grand Valley Water Users Association; Aaron Derwingson, Agricultural Coordinator, The Nature Conservancy; Paul Bruchez, Rancher, Flyfishing Guide, Member of the Colorado Basin Roundtable; Travis Smith, Senior Water Consultant, DiNatale Water Consultants; Allen Distel, President, Bostwick Park Water Conservancy District, Montrose; Ken Curtis, Chief of Engineering and Construction, Dolores Water Conservancy District; Tom Gray, former Moffat County Commissioner, Colorado River District board