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December 21, 2015

James Eklund on Creating Colorado’s First Water Plan

James Eklund (@EklundCWCB) is a whisky-drinking buddy and someone I think has set a legacy at a very young age by developing the first plan in Colorado’s history on its most vital resource: whisky water.

James is the director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board.  As a lawyer and a government official, James is already a disappointment to much of his family on the Western Slope.  He is redeemed in their eyes, however, because he drinks whisky and fights over water (but never at the same time).  The CWCB protects the state’s water with responsibilities ranging from Colorado’s Water Plan to our nine interstate compacts.

James is a graduate of Stanford University and the University of Denver College of Law (neither of which, his father is quick to note, made him any better at cleaning ditches or irrigating pasture).

Scroll below for links and show notes…


QUESTION OF THE DAY: In this episode, James decodes how he created Colorado’s first water plan. What innovation do you think is needed in the water industry and is there a way to incent people to do this?


Selected Links from the Episode
Show Notes
  • Why James Eklund volunteered to drive around Colorado’s Attorney General after graduating from Stanford [9:45]
  •  When does volunteering for a political candidate make sense? [12:30]
  • How James Eklund got into water law [14:23]
  • Governors having their own suite of lawyers [15:30]
  • How I negotiated against James Eklund’s for an assistant he was hiring [18:30]
  • How did James Eklund get appointed to be Water Czar? [19:45]
  • What Governor Hickenlooper did to go against traditional advice to have James Eklund’s back [21:50]
  • How James Eklund motivated his employees to be excited about developing a 400+ page plan without more budget [25:00]
  • The water-diamond dilemma [34:50]
  • What are the different mechanisms to get feedback; which are efficient and which are inefficient? [36:24]
  • When does James Eklund decide to gather feedback vs tell it like it is? [40:28]
  • What opportunities does James Eklund see for entrepreneurs in the water business? [45:15]
  • What one piece of advice would you give a 10 year younger version of yourself? [47:23]
  • What’s James Eklund’s whisky of choice these days? [48:05]
  • QOTD: What innovation do you think is needed in the water industry and is there a way to incent people to do this? [49:00]
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