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Rising through the ranks from entry-level laborer to supervisor

Welder charts impressive career path at Denver Water, earning two degrees and working on major projects.
From left, crew members Tim Aragon and Fabian Ruvalcaba talk to foreman Reggie Upson during a water service line replacement project. Photo credit: Denver Water.


Reggie Upson has just about done it all when it comes to installing and maintaining the infrastructure that delivers your water.

But squeezing through a 24-inch pipe to inspect its welded joints or pulling an all-nighter in subzero temperatures to fix a main break, “that’s when you really earn your paycheck and start thinking about an office job,” he joked.

Raised in the Washington, D.C., area, Upson was a welder in the military before moving to Colorado after his service. In his new state, Upson worked in construction and was part of a crew that built the underground train tunnels between concourses at Denver International Airport.

In 1993, he landed an entry-level job working in the field in Denver Water’s Transmission and Distribution department, which is currently called the Water Distribution group. For 14 years, he worked on hydrants, valves, pipes, mains — just about everything the department does.

Reggie Upson is a supervisor in Denver Water's Water Distribution group. Photo credit: Denver Water.


During that time, Upson worked his way up from that entry-level job to be the foreman of a crew of five to 10 people, and later a supervisor in the department, responsible for several field crews.

Upson then moved to Denver Water’s Engineering division, where he worked for 12 years as a construction inspector.

These days, he’s back in his old stomping grounds, working as a supervisor in the Water Distribution group.

“It’s a great field to work in,” Upson said of his career. “It’s fulfilling. You meet people out in the field who are thankful for what you do.”

Throughout his successful career, he’s had an influential hand in some of Denver Water’s most notable projects, including:

  • The expansion of Denver Water’s Lone Tree underground treated water storage site, which was the first project in the utility’s decade-long work, beginning in 2011, to transform its treated water storage facilities throughout the metro area.
  • The renovation of Ashland Reservoir, a $34 million, multiyear project completed in 2018 that included the installation of two 10-million-gallon treated water storage tanks along with updated pipes and valves. This project, he said, was one of the most challenging because it dealt with multiple governmental jurisdictions, and crews had to leave one tank in service while working to replace the other.
  • Major upgrades at Marston Treatment Plant, one of Denver Water’s three drinking water treatment plants.

Several years ago, Upson took advantage of Denver Water’s tuition reimbursement program, earning an associate degree in computer science and a bachelor’s degree in business management.

He encourages newcomers to advance their education in the growing construction field, and to heed the advice of people who have come before them, as most people are eager to share a bit of useful wisdom.

“If you have education, you can go far in construction today.” Upson said. “And it’s a great job. Every day is different.”

Reggie Upson, a supervisor in Denver Water's Water Distribution group, laughs during a water service line replacement project. Photo credit: Denver Water.