Why does water never laugh at jokes? Because water isn’t a fan of dry humor.
Seriously, the arid Colorado landscape necessitates diligent management of our scarce water resources. That’s why the Colorado State Land Board is seeking a Water Program Manager to join our asset management team. You’ll apply your knowledge of water policy and management to help oversee and steward our diverse portfolio of water assets.
What is the State Land Board?
The State Land Board is a constitutionally created agency that manages a $4 billion endowment of assets for the intergenerational benefit of Colorado’s K-12 schoolchildren and public institutions. The agency is the second-largest landowner in Colorado and generates revenue on behalf of beneficiaries by leasing nearly three million surface acres and four million subsurface acres for assorted purposes, including agriculture. Unlike public lands, trust lands are not open to the public unless a property has been leased for public access. We are entirely self-funded and receive no tax dollars.
Though we are a 145-year old, constitutionally chartered agency, we take pride in being entrepreneurial and business-savvy. We compete in private sector markets daily and generate more than $100 million in revenue annually.
What kind of land and water assets do we have?
Our 15-person field operations team is responsible for overseeing land and 2,000 stock wells, 122 decreed groundwater wells, 15 surface water rights, and stock shares in 11 different irrigation companies. We lease our water assets to customers who use them for agricultural operations, municipal water supplies, and industrial uses. We hope our portfolio of water assets grows significantly in the future. While we own and lease our assets, we are not operators. Lessees are responsible for on-the-ground operations. That said, we partner with our lessees to ensure that the agency’s water assets are well managed and that our stewardship objectives are met.
The job opportunity
This isn’t your typical government job.
We want you to share in our excitement over intergenerational stewardship of natural assets and share in our pride of providing significant financial support to Colorado’s public schools. On any given day you might be presenting to our Governor-appointed Commissioners, investigating acquisitions of water rights, liaising with ranchers, deciphering historic legal records, or traversing terrain to inspect water assets. This position proves wrong the old adage, ‘dull as ditch water!’ Here are the details:
Be our water guru.
Develop water-related business plans and policies for the agency.
Prepare valuation models to assist Board decision-making; provide fiscal and financial modeling on water asset revenue.
Determine and implement marketing strategies to diversify and enhance revenue from water leasing.
Coordinate leasing activities with fellow agency managers to understand how and when water resources may support other agency lines-of-business.
2) Protect our water assets. It’s no secret that water law is extremely complicated. You’ll work closely with our attorney general’s office to ensure our agency’s compliance while optimizing the use of our assets. We need you to use your acumen to identify legal threats to our water rights and water resources owned or used by the agency. Develop strategies to address said threats, and manage resources/consultants to ensure legal protection is accomplished.
3) Be business savvy to pursue opportunities that will increase the value of our water asset portfolio.
You will manage a large portfolio of real property assets, and you must understand our agency’s long-term mission and vision.
Lead all aspects of developing, negotiating, and closing water transactions and collaborate with Real Estate colleagues on acquisitions or dispositions.
Draft transaction documents, analyze title, secure approvals from the Board, and ensure that transactions are closed in an efficient manner.
Manage the process of developing, appropriating, contracting for, and using water rights and water resources.
4) Get your boots dirty (and wet). Where can you find a lake with no water? On a map. You’ll use our GIS and database systems regularly to manage the inventory of our water assets. But also you’ll go out in the field to evaluate existing and proposed water uses. You’ll be out in the field to verify compliance with lease terms, particularly stewardship stipulations. You’ll coordinate with other field staff to determine the proper course of action if lease violations are identified.
5) Do public outreach.
Represent us at meetings with lessees, local and state level elected officials, community organizations, industry and trade associations, and Federal land management agencies.
Implement strategies for outreach and communication with lessees and other external agencies regarding new and/or modified Land Board policies and practices, such as improved water management strategies, the emergency drought relief program, and more.
Resolve property use conflicts and determine the best approach to manage and avoid future conflicts.
6) Be a jack/jackie of all trades, aka ‘other duties as assigned.’ No job description would be complete without this ubiquitous line, right?
What can you expect from us in return for your hard work?
We are a lean team of 45 staff members that places significant emphasis on promoting and maintaining a positive work environment. We get our work done, and we have fun doing it. The qualities of our environment include transparent and open communication, work-life balance (we mean it), and a focus on training and development. You’ll regularly explore and travel our state on day trips or multi-day trips: be prepared for a few nights away from home. Minimal out-of-state travel is required. As a state employee, you have access to a suite of HR benefits and holidays, including professional development funds and tuition reimbursement. And you can feel good knowing your work is directly supporting Colorado schools.
NOTE: Our agency currently follows a hybrid work location model. You’ll be expected to work in-person during training. Then you can transition to a hybrid/virtual format that includes a minimum of two in-office days.
What attributes are we looking for?
At a minimum, you need the following:
Graduation from an accredited college or university with a bachelor’s degree in water resources, water resource management, watershed science, water law, hydrology, geohydrology, geology, civil engineering, environmental sciences, natural resources, or directly related field.
– AND –
Three (3) years of professional related experience in water resources management (both surface and groundwater rights) preferably working for an entity that owns and manages water rights. Wondering what counts as ‘related experience?’ As examples, the following counts: experience as a ditch rider, rancher or farmer that included regulating and measuring water flow through headgates, canals or streams. Or experience managing irrigation and irrigation systems, scientific field investigations, municipal water operations.
Substitutions: you don’t necessarily need to fit this prescribed box. Additional appropriate experience will substitute for the degree requirement on a year-for-year basis. Additional appropriate education will substitute for the required experience on a year-for-year basis. For example: a high School diploma or GED and at least a total of seven years of relevant experience may be substituted to meet the minimum qualifications for a Bachelor’s degree.
You get bonus points if you can demonstrate the following:
Additional years of professional experience
Comfort with public speaking and presenting
Experience using complex databases
Leasing or sales experience
Knowledge of, and practical experience applying, Colorado water law
Familiarity with the Colorado landscape
Familiarity with Google office products
To be successful as a member of this agency, you’ll have these professional traits and skills:
Good written and oral communication with the ability to convey information to others effectively and efficiently
Independent yet also a team player, proactively helps others
Strong interpersonal skills
Customer-service mindset, respectful, helpful
Proactive, takes initiative, self motivated
Possesses good problem solving skills, seeks to understand alternatives, employs logic and good judgment
Self confident and self aware
Great work ethic: results oriented, disciplined, conscientious, thorough and diligent
Honest, trustworthy, dependable
Enthusiastic, energetic, optimistic, positive attitude
Organized and professional
Adaptable and open to change
We hope this sounds like you. Tell us why. Apply online through the state portal.
PS: We compete in the private-sector markets every day and operate largely independently from state government. But not from HR. So please follow the lengthy prompts to apply for this position through the state hiring portal. Only candidates who apply through the state portal will be considered. Think of it as an endurance test. We hope to see you at the finish line.