I hope everyone had a great Drinking Water Week last week. I had a fun day Friday, celebrating with Denver Mayor Michael Hancock as he accepted the City’s first place award for the Wyland Foundation’s Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation. Other winning cities included: Laguna Beach, CA, Bremerton, WA, Tucson, AZ and West Palm Beach, FL. CH2M HILL’s Water Match was a sponsor, along with EPA’s Water Sense program, the National League of Cities, Lowe’s, Toyota and Rainbird. As we got ready for the news conference, a group of Denver school kids on a field trip spotted the Mayor and swarmed him. He took the time to greet them and it struck me how important visible role models, and in particular Mayors, are in educating our communities about important issues like conserving water.
While I have you, check out our new venture called Green Path Partners. CH2M HILL has joined forces with EKO Asset Management to bring new financing solutions to communities looking to add natural infrastructure to the mix when addressing environmental issues like stormwater management. Google “green infrastructure” and you’ll get 277,000,000 hits, so we know it’s trendy. But we’re breaking new ground in looking at innovative public-private financing for these projects.
As I look back on my own career, I realize I’ve been doing “green infrastructure” since my days with the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority. Back in the mid-1980s, the state was considering a plan to divert the Connecticut River into the pristine waters of the Quabbin Reservoir, which would have required expensive treatment and would have threatened the watershed. Instead, a visionary Board of Directors, spurred on by a hearty band of environmental and citizen activists, took the “soft path”. The MWRA and its member communities invested in water conservation, fixing leaks and other demand management measures. It worked like a charm, bringing the system’s yield well within safe guidelines. And the Quabbin and Wachusett Reservoirs are still as green as ever. Not that we at CH2M HILL don’t love building water plants, but sometimes, nature’s got a better idea.