Mark Pifher: 2018 Aspinall Award Recipient #cwcac2018

This year’s recipient is Mark Pifher.

Here’s the release from the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District (Chris Woodka):

Mark Pifher, who shepherded two of the state’s largest water projects to completion and a nationally recognized expert on water quality issues, was awarded the top award at this week’s Colorado Water Congress convention.

Pifher was awarded the Wayne N. Aspinall Water Leader of the Year Award.

Pifher, a Colorado Springs resident, is a member of the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District board of directors, and recently retired from Colorado Springs Utilities. He previously was executive director of Aurora Water and served as executive director of the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission.

“I’m thrilled to be among a very select group of water leaders who have received this award,” Pifher said.

The award is named for the late Rep. Wayne N. Aspinall, who was an influential member of Congress who pushed through many water projects in the 1950s and 1960s.

Pifher came to Colorado Springs Utilities in 2012 during the construction of the Southern Delivery System to help with permit issues and community relations. The $840 million water delivery project was the largest in Colorado in recent years.

From 2006-12, Pifher headed Aurora Water and Completed the $600 million Prairie Waters Project, which recycles return flows for reuse as a fresh water supply.

From 2002-06, Pifher led the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission.

Pifher still is a recognized authority on water quality issues, and has taken the lead in this area for the National Water Resources Association.

Pifher was greeted at the awards ceremony Friday by past winners of the award, his wife Wendy and his son Jeff, a jazz musician from Los Angeles.

Mark Pifher is congratulated by his wife, Wendy, after receiving the Aspinall Award at the 2018 Colorado Water Congress Aspinall Award Luncheon.

Greg Hobbs sent these photos along from the Aspinall Award Luncheon.

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Here’s Greg’s invocation from the luncheon:

Aspinall Award Lunch, Colorado Water Congress


Welcome to the annual Aspinall Award Lunch. As the sun comes round again and the days grow longer,
it’s good to be a young person in love. It’s good to be in love at any age!

As we gather together in celebration of each other and Colorado, I invoke the love of Leroy and Martha Carpenter,
who gave birth to Delph Carpenter, the Architect of Compacts, a first generation descendant of the Union Colony.

As the railroad came in off the trans-Continental from Cheyenne as far as Evans in 1870, the Union Colony settled in near
the confluence of the Poudre and the South Platte rivers. Leroy arrived early with members of his family.

Delph’s parents courted each other by letters carried between Greeley and Martha’s home in eastern Iowa by way of the new Union Pacific
and Kansas Pacific railroad routes. Amidst the serious work of establishing a relationship line by line, they bantered about who would carry
whom across the Union Colony No. 2 and No. 3 ditches.

On October 2, 1871, Martha wrote “I should not certainly (fear) those numerous ditches if I could have some Carpenters to keep me
from falling into them.” (Dan Tyler and Betty Henshaw, Love In An Envelope at 47).

On January 14, 1872, Leroy suggested they would carry each other across. “And when we come to these ditches, I may carry you over
and then you may carry me over. Will that suit you?” (Envelope at 84).

A teacher and a wit, Martha responded playfully while clearly establishing that their relationship would be founded upon mutual consent,
“I don’t know whether I shall consent to carry you over the ditches or not.” (Envelope at 92).

To the south in the San Luis Valley, Hispanic settlers had constructed the San Luis People’s Ditch nearly twenty years earlier.
Long before that, the Utes were traveling back and forth along the rivers, canyons, mountains and plains of this land we now call Colorado.

As we all look to our heritage and to the forested watersheds, may the Lord bless and sustain each of us.

Greg Hobbs

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