Meet Jim Borland, FCLWD board chair and area resident for 45 years
This year, the Fort Collins-Loveland Water District (FCLWD) turns 60 years old. That’s a lot of water! We think marking six decades of service warrants a bit of celebration. After all, it’s not every day that you turn 60.
Throughout the course of 2021, we are honoring and celebrating the people who have helped us reach this milestone, because the FCLWD could have never made it to this place without the amazing individuals who call the area home. To view our February spotlight, swing over here to meet Sue Vest who had been with the District for over 30 years.
Today, we’re spotlighting another person who knows the district extremely well. Meet Jim Borland, Chairman of the FCLWD Board of Directors and area resident since the 1970s. Jim sat down to share his thoughts on the history of the District, some major water accomplishments over the years, and what he sees are challenges for an area growing as rapidly as the District.
Jim arrives in Fort Collins in the 1970s
When Jim moved his family from the suburbs of Chicago to Fort Collins in 1976, the country was celebrating its bicentennial, the Grateful Dead was still writing music, and the area’s population was less than half of what it is today. Jim began his work with the District in the early 1980s simply out of community service: “A citizen has an obligation to perform community service, and this was an area that needed attention,” he remembers.
By 1982, Jim found his way onto the board and has been a member ever since, making him one of the longest-running FCLWD board members in its 60-year history.
According to Jim, water quality has been a priority for as long as he can remember, which has become one of the major draws for residents, commercial producers like breweries and distilleries, and other northern Colorado industries.
“Water quality is key,” says Jim, when asked about major District accomplishments over the years. “The quality is as good or better than what you buy bottled in a grocery store, and we’re very proud of the high-quality of water.”
Jim credits a lot of the water quality initiatives to education—understanding that the District is uniquely positioned in an area with access to pure snowmelt, but that the water from the snowmelt should be stored cleanly in the foothills, not in highly-populated areas where hot algae, sewer plants and other contaminants can cause issues.
Another important accomplishment of the District over the years has been its emphasis on sustainable growth management, with a focus on the philosophy that growth pays its way.
“The [FCLWD] board and staff plan for the future generations,” says Jim. “We’re always looking ahead because what we do now impacts our children and grandchildren years down the road. These things take years to develop, and I’ve been around long enough to see the results of decisions made 20 or 30 years ago.”
What’s in store for the future of the FCLWD?
There are a lot of variables to consider when surveying the future of the District: rapid area growth, ongoing Colorado droughts and forest fires, and competing visions for development, to name just a few. But Jim is confident that the District is poised to meet these challenges due to a resource almost as important as water: human resources.
“Our District is at the head of the pack in terms of quality staff looking ahead to the next 20, 30, 40 years,” says Jim.
One of the areas Jim has seen staffed up in recent years has been security, a newer focus since the beginning of his tenure on the board, but an essential one.
“We have undertaken policy in the last three to four years to increase security and to make the public aware that there is a need to do this as other districts have been hacked around the nation,” says Jim. “There’s no end to that because computer services and equipment get dated pretty fast and our policy is to stay ahead of that.”
At the end of the day, the water quality, treatment plant security, sustainable management of growth, and the myriad other factors Jim has encountered over the years have always been approached with FCLWD customers in mind.
“[I try to] keep the average consumer in mind in decisions,” says Jim, which he admits can sometimes be a challenge since water is often taken for granted until a problem arises. “We’re looking out for the average consumer, but you rarely hear from them so long as the rates are reasonable.”
With Jim’s vision, and the knowledge he brings to the District, there’s every reason to believe the water quality, rates and growth management will continue to excel beyond “reasonable” for future generations to come.