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A crucial role 'most people never think about'

Katie Ross, Denver Water engineering manager, reflects on redeveloping the National Western Center.

Katie Ross, an engineering manager at Denver Water, worked for years on the redevelopment of the 250-acre National Western Center, long the home of the annual National Western Stock Show in north Denver. 

In this Colorado State University Spur Spotlight she looks back at her involvement with the site. 

The first building at CSU’s Spur campus, called Vida — Spanish for life — will open in January 2022. The second building, called Terra and housing scientists, researchers and experts focused on land and agriculture, is scheduled to open in April 2022.

The ribbon cutting for the third building, called Hydro and home to experts focused on water, will take place in January 2023. The building also will house Denver Water’s new water quality laboratory. 

Read more profiles of the people involved in bringing the CSU Spur campus to life.

Katie Ross, engineering manager at Denver Water. Photo credit: Denver Water.

Name: Katie Ross

Role: Engineering Manager at Denver Water 

Please share how you are connected to CSU Spur.

My role is the one that most people never think about, helping to plan and manage where the pipes that carry water will be buried — not just at the CSU Spur campus, but across the redeveloped National Western Center. It’s the role that makes sure we’ve used the right material that will last, in the right location. It gives people the ability to turn the faucet and get water. 

When did you get involved with Spur and why is it important to you? 

I got involved in February 2018 on the planning for the National Western Center. It’s a complicated site, with a lot of history and many different partners involved, including private developers, the city and CSU. And Denver Water is both a utility reviewing the redevelopment plan and a tenant and partner in the development of the Hydro building, which is just one of the 17 projects at the site in our plan review process. 

We worked with other utility providers to get all the utilities needed to support the different activities at the site, from offices to events to our own water quality laboratory, and make sure everyone involved in the development knows what is happening.

Meet Denver Water’s tight-knit crew of distribution inspectors, who make sure new pipes are installed correctly at the new development. 

What outcomes have you seen or do you expect from work at Spur? 

The work we did to support the development of Spur and the entire National Western Center, it changed how Denver Water handles large, multiphase, master-planned projects. We were involved earlier in the redevelopment process, allowing us to work with the development teams rather than coming in after decisions had already been made. 

And this is one of the first projects that took a One Water approach, considering the types of water appropriate for the overall development, including the use of recycled water (which wasn’t appropriate for this development), grey water and stormwater in addition to safe, clean drinking water.

Looking north at the National Western Center, the three buildings that make up Colorado State University’s Spur campus are Terra (right), Hydro (middle, with the blue crane) and Vida (above Hydro), seen here under construction in September 2021. The South Platte River can be seen on the left. Photo credit: Denver Water.

What would you like others to know about Spur?

This kind of development, it’s not just a grocery store or an apartment building. When you have multiple phases, building types, partners and types of partners, it gets complicated. There are a lot of projects that will benefit from what we did planning the redevelopment of the National Western Center.