Water Supply Permitting Lean Event

Colorado’s Water Plan laid out numerous actions needed to ensure secure supplies for cities, the environment, agriculture, and recreation in the decades ahead. One important step called for improving efficiency and coordination in what can be a lengthy water supply permitting process.

To put this into action, the plan called on the Colorado Water Conservation Board to host a series of Lean events with relevant permitting agencies and stakeholders to examine current processes and determine how to make them more efficient and effective. Lean is a set of principles and methods for identifying and eliminating waste for any process in order to improve the customer experience. Lean rapid improvement events engage employees and customers to identify problems and implement solutions.  Lean seeks to create a culture of continuous improvement where employees are encouraged to identify and fix problems.

The State of Colorado and the Environmental Protection Agency Region 8 jointly convened a Lean event focusing on water supply permitting by bringing together representatives from state, local, and federal water supply agencies. In addition, representatives from water utilities, environmental groups, and other stakeholder groups were present to share their individual experiences with large water supply project permitting. 

The project included a one-day scoping event in February 2016 and a three-day Lean event following in March. The Lean event examined the initiation of NEPA and project scoping of water supply permitting projects in Colorado.  The participants outlined a vision that the group would recommend an efficient process that is scientifically sound, credible, defensible, and environmentally responsible. At the conclusion of the event, the participants agreed to put in place several improvements to the process and is working on a set of implementation items to be uploaded to this webpage. These improvements seek to increase communication and cooperation across federal, state, and local regulators, as well as non-governmental stakeholders, and establish best practices for future water supply projects.