GROWING UP IN Southern California where he enjoyed surfing and water skiing, Jim Lochhead—Denver Water CEO/manager—has always had an affinity for water. That personal connection to water has taken him to a number of professional places in his career in which he has served to protect and deliver water to end-users. His efforts have garnered a number of awards. In 2014, Lochhead received the Wayne N. Aspinall “Water Leader of the Year” award from the Colorado Water Congress, presented annually to a Coloradan demonstrating courage, dedication, knowledge, and leadership in the development, protection, and preservation of Colorado water. In 2015, Lochhead received the President’s Award from the Colorado Foundation for Water Education, given to a person with a history of meaningful work in the water field. Also that year, the US Environmental Protection Agency honored Denver Water with an excellence award for its promotion of WaterSense-labeled products through retailer education, rebate programs, and targeted outreach.
Lochhead also serves on the boards of the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, the Water Research Foundation, the Water Utility Climate Alliance, the Water Foundation, and the Denver Botanic Gardens. He was the Colorado governor’s representative on interstate Colorado River operations and served on the Colorado Water Conservation Board, Great Outdoors Colorado, The Nature Conservancy, and Colorado Conservation Trust. Lochhead represents the Denver Water Board in ongoing relationships with all government levels, community organizations, and the public. He recommends rate structures to the board as well as other income-generating procedures to assure adequate revenues to meet operating and maintenance costs, finance of ongoing capital improvement programs, and the principal and interest payments on long-term debts. Lochhead oversees eight division directors, the general counsel, the internal auditor, and the chief of staff, as well as other Denver Water employees.
What He Does Day to Day
Appointed Denver Water’s CEO/Manager in 2010, Lochhead’s duty is to execute board policies and decisions and review and recommend changes in rules and regulations “to be the best water utility in the nation,” he says. “I provide overall direction to employees and oversee the work necessary to manage an essential natural resource in an environmentally sustainable way to ultimately provide a reliable, clean, and safe drinking water supply to 1.4 million people in the Denver metro area. As one of the state’s largest landowners, we also have a responsibility of how we operate for environmental stewardship throughout the watersheds and communities of which we are a part.”
What Led Him to this Line of Work
“I loved being in the water and always had an environmental interest,” he says of his coastal childhood. Lochhead earned a Bachelor’s degree in environmental biology from the University of Colorado and a law degree from the University of Colorado School of Law. Prior to joining Denver Water, Lochhead addressed natural resource issues throughout the US as executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources and internationally at a private law firm. “A concern for water and the environment has been a central focus of my career,” notes Lochhead. “I spent decades working on water agreements in Colorado and across the nation. It gives me great joy to continue working for and improving the future of this precious resource.”
What He Likes Best About His Work
Lochhead says he enjoys the people with whom he works “who make Denver Water a great organization. Denver Water is celebrating 100 years of planning, building, and maintaining a water system that supports a growing city,” he adds. “This would not happen without the passionate, dedicated employees who show up every day. Their commitment to our customers and our mission is greatly appreciated.”
His Greatest Challenge
Climate change and growth impacts to water supply in the West are his greatest challenges, notes Lochhead. “Denver Water has an integrated resource plan that looks ahead 50 years to the challenges we might face and how to address them,” he points out. “The future will not look like the past for many reasons: economics, growth, weather events, and demand, among others. We’re creating different scenarios for all of that to ensure the Denver metro area has the same high-quality and reliable supply in the future as it does today.”