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Paying it forward to the next generation of water leaders

Celebration of Denver Water’s past helps develop the future through a $5,000 scholarship.
David LaFrance, left, CEO of the American Water Works Association, with Denver Water Centennial Scholarship recipient Daniel Sanchez and Kathie Dudas, manager of marketing for Denver Water. Photo credit: American Water Works Association.


Denver Water, the largest and oldest water utility in the state, has roots that stretch a century into the past.

But the utility also has its eyes on the future.

“As part of our 100th anniversary last year, we had a goal of celebrating our past, present and future,” said Jessica Kirk, a marketing specialist with Denver Water.

Denver residents on Aug. 6, 1918, voted to create a five-member Board of Water Commissioners and buy the Denver Union Water Company’s system for nearly $14 million, creating Denver Water.

“During 2018, we did a lot that looked at our past and our historic achievements. We also celebrated our present with our employees and communities,” Kirk said.

“And it was really important for us to set our sights on the future. The best way to do that is to invest in tomorrow’s water leaders who will be making important decisions about water in the years to come.”

This was achieved through the American Water Works Association’s scholarship program, called "Water Equation: Funding the Future of Water," with a special scholarship.

Denver Water Centennial Scholarship

Denver Water Centennial Scholarship recipient Daniel Sanchez, second from left, with his grandfather, Jack Bartels, and parents Jill and Ron Sanchez at the ACE19 lunch honoring the 2019 Scholarship Program. Photo credit: Denver Water.


Denver Water sponsored a scholarship for $5,000, which is awarded annually to a student who has serious interest in the fields of water delivery, quality, reclamation or reuse.

The 2019 recipient was Daniel Sanchez, a Colorado native who grew up in Colorado Springs and will be a senior this fall at Colorado State University where he studies civil engineering. Sanchez expects to graduate next spring.

“This scholarship will be a big help paying the costs of my education,” said Sanchez, who is responsible for paying for part of his education and has applied for several scholarships to help defray tuition bills.

“I was really excited when I found out I was selected for Denver Water’s Centennial Scholarship. This is one of the biggest awards I’ve received, it means so much to me.”

Sanchez interned this summer with Jacobs’ water group.

“Water is cool. Everyone needs it. People take it for granted that clean water will come out the tap. It’s something we all need, especially overseas,” said Sanchez, whose father Ron Sanchez is an engineering manager at Colorado Springs Utilities’ water division.

AWWA and scholarship sponsors support students through scholarships, fellowships and achievement awards.

The scholarship was announced in early June at AWWA’s annual conference. The ACE19 conference was held this year at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.