Meet the Fort Collins-Loveland Water District Board  - Fort Collins - Loveland Water District
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Made up of five members, the Fort Collins-Loveland Water District (FCLWD) board of directors is responsible for providing fiduciary oversight for all District operations, staff, and projects, as well as giving guidance for the future of water in our community. To become a District board member, candidates must reside or own property within the District. Board members must also have experience in water, community leadership, or operations management to be a part of the group.  

Members of the FCLWD board typically serve for a term of two or four years. While Board members receive a small stipend (limited by state law) for their time, they are largely volunteers serving the District’s customers, present and future. 

The FCLWD board plays an incredibly important role in ensuring that our customers have safe, reliable water. Each member donates their time, talents, and expertise to guide the District and protect water in our community.  

We recently caught up with our board and interviewed them to help our customers get to know each member. Meet the Fort Collins-Loveland Water District board of directors. 

Jim Borland, Chairman of the Board of Directors

Jim Borland has lived in Northern Colorado since 1976. He grew up in the Midwest and after serving in the Army, he led an exciting career at General Foods Corporation (now Kraft) and global ad agency Leo Burnett where he built many of the brands we still use today. After deciding big city life wasn’t for their family, Jim and his wife moved to Fort Collins to raise their children. In 1982, Jim’s neighbor asked him to join the District board when a seat was made available. Jim has been on the board ever since. For those of you counting, that’s over 40 years on the board! 

Q: Why do you serve on the board? 

A: Water is a long-term effort. It’s not like serving on other boards where you’re dealing with annual budgets and programs. Water involves looking ahead to the future. I’m proud to be a part of a diversified and forward-thinking board, that’s helped the District get where it is today and will help the District for generations to come.

Q: Why are you passionate about water in Northern Colorado and the FCWLD? 

A: Everyone would like to see their own family have opportunities where we live in northern Colorado. Opportunities for your family depend on having an adequate amount of potable water and irrigation water. I am honored to be involved in projects like NISP; we’ve been talking about this for over 25 years on the board, and I want to see the project through. It is incredible to be a part of something this important with a long-lasting impact for the community. 

Q: What has been your greatest accomplishment as a board member? 

A: About 30 years ago the District made a pivotal decision about how to work with developers to provide water. Historically, developers were required to find water and bring that to the District as part of their tap application, but even 30 years ago it was getting more difficult for developers to do that. With the District’s rapid growth, the board decided to inventory water in the district and make that water available to developers. Having water readily available in the district makes it easier for developers to purchase a tap from FCLWD. The District can then use these tap fees to support the acquisition of new water rights and infrastructure to support the new developments. This decision has become the foundation of the board’s philosophy that “growth pays its way” and was key in positioning the District for where it is today.

Closing thoughts: High-quality water has been the key to the growth of northern Colorado. The District is and will continue to be committed to finding and utilizing only high-quality water. That’s why projects like Glade Reservoir and Chimney Hollow are so important, to protect the water of the future.  

Bill Dieterich, Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors

Bill Dieterich grew up in New York City. At 18, he moved to Colorado to attend the Air Force Academy. Bill started his career designing aircraft at Wright Patterson in Ohio. He then went back to school before going back to the Air Force Academy to teach. In 1980, he moved to northern Colorado to work at HP where he honed his leadership skills. He has lived in Fort Collins for more than 30 years. He left HP in 2002 and worked with a variety of startups. He now runs a group called SAGE; they match business advisors to startup companies to provide leadership and guidance. Bill brings his deep roots in business development, management and leadership to the board and has served the District for seven years.  

Q: Why do you serve on the board? 

A: It’s an incredibly important job. I think of myself in the give-back phase of my journey and serving on the board is one way I give back to the community that has given me so much. I’ve always been passionate about conservation. When I was a Boy Scout, I received the merit badge for water conservation. It’s fascinating to think that something we were talking about 50 years ago is still relevant today and will likely still be relevant 50 years from now.  

Q: Why are you passionate about water in Northern Colorado and the FCWLD? 

A: Our community’s public health and economic health are dependent on water. We’re here because the people before us had the foresight to secure water for us today; I am working to do the same for future generations. Conservation is a big part of that, and I’m very passionate about conservation. We all know that our water will get divided by more towns, cities, and people. Conservation will play a bigger role in the future; it’s not just about finding new water. How do we make significant progress on conservation without destroying the economic benefits? My passion lies in helping steward water for the future. 

Q: What is your proudest moment as an FCWLD board member? 

A: There are so many things but one of the biggest is being part of a collaborative team. You hear a lot that boards are dysfunctional but at FCLWD, we all take the initiative to be collaborative and respectful of differences, as a result, we’re able to come to good decisions without falling into groupthink. We can have real, tough conversations. If you look at the history of when we vote, you’ll often see a lot of 5-0 votes. That’s because whatever we’re voting on has been well talked about and disagreements have been resolved ahead of the vote. Our team focuses on the big picture. 

Q: Looking ahead to the District’s future, what are you excited about? 

A: There are a few huge projects we have coming that I’m immensely proud of and excited about. One of which is our infrastructure – the district is 63 years old and we’re working hard to maintain and upgrade our systems. We’re also working hard to bring a new treatment plant to the northeast part of Fort Collins, and of course, seeing NISP completed. When it comes to water and the District we are always looking at projects that are 10 to 30 years out that are critical to the future of our community and District. My hope and wish is that when the board meets 30 years from now, whoever is at the table says that the boards before them made good decisions.  

Peter O’Neill, Treasurer of the Board of Directors 

Peter O’Neill was invited to join the board as its first associate (non-voting) director in February of 2019, became a full voting director in April 2022, and treasurer in June 2023. Peter is an electrical engineer who worked for 37 years in the local semiconductor operations of Hewlett-Packard and Spinoffs Agilent Technologies and Avago Technologies doing R&D, manufacturing, and quality where he earned 5 patents. He followed that with a couple of years of consulting including with a Silicon Valley startup.

A 45-year resident of the Fort Collins area, Peter has volunteered in a variety of capacities to serve his community. He served as the president of the largest HOA in Fort Collins in the mid-1990s. His interest in utilities as the opposite end of the scale from microelectronics first engaged him in a 6-year stint on the Fort Collins Energy Board (chairing it for 3 years) advising City Council on energy policy. That then brought him to water where he received valuable training in the Water LiterateLeaders of Northern Colorado program (Class of 2020). He founded the local section of the electrical engineering professional society, the IEEE, where he is an officer and volunteers with the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Colorado State University. His motto is if you don’t like how something is being done, get involved to fix it. He is dedicated to using his engineering and leadership skills to have the District serve its customers as reliably, economically, and safely as possible.

Peter grew up mostly in Wilmington, Delaware. He enjoys spending time in the great Colorado outdoors hiking, skiing, and paddling. Peter and his wife are avid travelers who have visited over 30 countries and counting.  

Q: Why do you serve on the board? 

A: I am passionate about public service and am really motivated to serve my community. Water is such an exciting topic, and this is a great way for me to use my experience to do something for the community. 

Q: Why are you passionate about water in Northern Colorado and the FCWLD? 

A: Clean water systems are essential to civilized life, and a lot of people take it for granted. Our systems are stressed, and climates are getting dryer and hotter. Coupled with the fact that more people are moving to the area, we must think ahead to secure accessible water in the future. 

Q: What role do you believe the FCWLD board plays in the community and our water future?
A: The buck stops with the board. We are responsible for the District’s performance, customer service, and educating customers on what we’re doing and how they can participate.
We are also responsible for water’s future. We must look ahead to supply whatever growth happens within the district boundaries. This includes proactively looking for sources of water to serve that need if/when it happens. 

Q: Looking ahead to the District’s future, what are you excited about? 

A: I am passionate about maintaining the District’s mission to provide high-quality, secure, reliable, and affordable water, and doing that by making upgrades to the system to provide better service. We all want quality water to come out of the tap every time we turn on the water, but there’s a lot that goes into making that possible. The District is over 60 years old and coming to a point where replacement and upgrades are needed. I’m excited about seeing these system upgrades to maintain quality in the district and continue to improve service.  

Ron Ruff, Director

Ron Ruff is a native Coloradoan and has built his life in Fort Collins. Growing up he always wanted to own his own farm and was able to accomplish that right in Fort Collins. Having worked in agriculture in northern and eastern Colorado for the majority of his life, water has always played a big part in his life personally and professionally. Ron has been a District customer for many years and had been actively involved with the board and previous members even before joining the board himself. In 2017, Ron officially joined the board bringing his extensive expertise in agriculture, farming and ranching.  

Q: Why do you serve on the board?

A: Growing up in Colorado and working in agriculture, water has always been a significant part of my life. Water is the source of our state’s rich agricultural tradition, in fact, it was Colorado farmers who created our region’s original irrigation infrastructure. It’s important to remember where we came from as we look to the future. When I joined the board, I wanted to share my expertise in agriculture and help protect the quality of water for new and existing community members. 

Q: What role do you believe the FCWLD board plays in the community and our water future?  

A: The board has two primary functions: maintaining financial stability for the District and acquiring new water sources for the future. Customers need to remember that the District is not a land use authority, so we have no input in the zoning of land or jurisdiction in granting or defining land use. Thus, our role as a water service provider is often reactive to the growth trends governed by municipalities. Regardless of how many new customers come into the District, our role is to ensure a healthy and thriving future for the District. 

Q: Looking ahead to the District’s future, what are you excited about?
A: Fort Collins-Loveland Water District is one of the best water districts in the state of Colorado. I am proud of our ability to not only provide the highest quality water but also some of the most affordable water in the region. My goal is to maintain that and overcome the challenges of acquiring new water, maintaining the District’s infrastructure, and planning for growth. 

Q: What challenges do you see for the District and what is the board doing to overcome them?  

A: Water is a multifaceted and dynamic resource in our region. Competition is more intense than ever, and so are the stakes for securing water rights. With each passing day, the ability to secure water rights grows more difficult. Not only is the resource limited, but the District is also limited by the geography of new water sources: Water needs to be located at a higher elevation to efficiently pipe into our treatment plant. FCLWD customers can trust that the District is doing everything it can to deliver enough water now and into the future. The board believes in a philosophy that “growth pays its way” and so we greet each new opportunity with responsible growth in mind. 

Stephen Smith, Director

Stephen Smith has had a long and successful career in water engineering. He graduated from college with a degree in engineering in 1973. He then completed his master’s in 1975 at Colorado State University. Not long after, Stephen founded Aqua Engineering. Over the course of 40 years, he managed irrigation and water resources projects in more than 20 countries and all over the U.S. Stephen also founded several other companies in the community, as well as worked on a research project at Colorado State University called Irrigation Innovation Consortium, funded by the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research. He has since scaled back to focus on farming and consulting for local ditch companies. Stephen’s long career and extensive background in water, water delivery, water management and landscape irrigation made serving on the FCLWD board a natural fit. He started on the board in the fall of 2022 as an associate board member and became a full voting member in February.  

Q: Why do you serve on the board? 

A: I’ve been a customer for 30 years and have always been interested in the District’s operations as well as impressed by the long history of the District. As a water engineer and a farmer, it was not a big shift to join the board to help steward water in northern Colorado. 

Q: What role do you believe the FCWLD board plays in the community and our water future?  

A: First and foremost, the board’s primary function is fiduciary responsibility. This is incredibly important and underpins everything we do. From there, it is our responsibility to think about the future of the community and water. You can’t serve on a board or be part of the water industry and think this is how we’ve always done things and this is the way we’re always going to do it. You have to “lift and shift.” We need to be light on our feet, listening to customers, and listening to the larger conversation about water and water availability and sustainability so that we can deliver clean, potable water for health and culinary purposes.

Q: Why are you passionate about water and the FCWLD? 

A: I’m really excited to join the board. I look forward to the next few years to learn more about District policies, governance, and customer satisfaction. Having been a customer for 30 years, I know the water quality is extraordinary and the management has been wonderful, I’m looking forward to helping continue and further that reputation. 

Q: What challenges do you see for the District and what are you doing to overcome them? 

A: I think our biggest challenge is helping resolve the expectation that water will always be readily available and cheap. As water delivery, management, and administrative costs increase then the water rate also needs to increase. We’re not tasked with making a profit, but we are tasked with responsibly delivering water and looking to the future.  

The entire Fort Collins-Loveland Water District board is dedicated and passionate about protecting the water of the future and living up to the District’s mission to provide safe and affordable water for all. We appreciate their leadership and vision for the future.  

If you have any questions or concerns, the board can be contacted via email at Board meetings are regularly held on the third Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. All board meetings are also open to the public.

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