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The Cost of Water

AIMs Community College Welcome Center | March 1 | 4901 W 20 St, Greeley, CO 80634

The 9th annual Poudre River Forum will explore the cost of water and potential solutions, from a regional to household perspective. The day will focus on the cost of water as it pertains to infrastructure, storage, treatment, delivery, agriculture, food, housing, and more.

Event Schedule

8:00 AM – 9:00 AM | Registration, Exhibitors and Networking

9:00 AM – 9:20 AM | Welcome

9:25 AM – 9:50 AM | The Cost of Water, a personal impact story

Speaker: James “JC” Cox, a local financial planner and accredited investment fiduciary

10:00 AM – 11:30 AM | Laying out the Costs – Panel

Panelists: Adam Jokerst, Rocky Mountain Regional Director for Westwater Research; Dr. Chris Goemans, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at Colorado State University; Donnie Dustin, P.E. Water Resource Engineer City of Fort Collins; and Wellington Mayor, Calar Chausse

Moderator: Zac Thode, Roberts Ranch Manager

11:30 AM – 12:45 PM | Lunch, Exhibitors and Networking

12:30 PM – 12:50 PM | Poudre Pioneer Award Presentation

Poudre Pioneer Award Winner: Randy Gustafson

1:00 PM – 2:20 PM | Working Toward Solutions

Panelists: Dena Egenhoff, City of Greeley’s Water Conservation Manager; Karen Schlatter, Associate Director of the Colorado Water Center at CSU; Chris Matkins, Ally Utility Consulting; and Kate Ryan, Executive Director of the Colorado Water Trust

Moderator: Alex Hager, KUNC Reporter

2:30 PM – 3:00 PM | Water – A Current Perspective 

Keynote Speaker: Robert Sakata, Colorado Department of Agriculture Water Policy Advisor

3:00 PM – 4:30 PM | Reception, Exhibitors and Networking

Speakers & Bios


Zach Thode is a native of Livermore, working on ranches in this rural community in Northern Colorado from elementary through college.  Zach graduated from Colorado State University, with a degree in agricultural engineering. After college, he found work as a construction laborer and advanced to management, spending six years engaged in the construction of municipal water treatment facilities across Colorado and Wyoming. For another five years, Thode designed large scale irrigation systems.  Zach now manages a large cattle ranch in Livermore, while also continuing in Graduate school, representing the BigIron Auction company, and free-lance consulting.  A wife and 4 young children keep Zach focused on the future.

Board involvement:

Larimer County Ag Advisory Board (chair), Rocky Mountain Section of ASABE, Ft Collins Conservation District, Poudre River Runs Through it Board, Larimer County Stock Growers, Ag Water Quality Advisory Board, Livermore Community Church Board


Alex Hager is KUNC’s reporter covering the Colorado River Basin. He spent two years at Aspen Public Radio, mainly reporting on the resort economy, the environment, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Before that, he covered the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery for KDLG in Dillingham, Alaska.

Alex has a journalism degree from Elon University, where he spent four years working for the student newspaper and TV station. While at Elon, he also worked as a sports correspondent for the Burlington Times-News, covering ACC football and basketball as well as Carolina Panthers NFL football.

When he’s not in the office, Alex enjoys hiking, practicing Spanish, playing basketball, and reading poetry. He was born and raised in Connecticut.

Donnie Dustin is a water resources engineer for the City of Fort Collins Utilities. He has been working at Fort Collins for over 25 years, mostly with the Water Resources Division and recently went back to a contributor role after leading the Division for over 10 years. He currently works on special projects for the division, but recently acted as the Halligan Water Supply Project permitting coordinator and still has a very active role in the project. In addition, Donnie is the Larimer County municipal representative for the South Platte Basin Roundtable and sits on several local irrigation company boards.

Donnie grew up in rural Maryland where he played in “creeks” bigger than the Poudre River. He moved to Colorado in 1991 after receiving his BS in Geology from James Madison University. He worked as an environmental consultant in Denver for two years and then was a ski bum in Summitt County for a while where he met his wife of over 26 years. They moved to Fort Collins in 1995 so he could acquire a MS in Civil Engineering (Water Resources and Planning focus) from Colorado State University. They have two teenagers that keep them busy now, but otherwise he enjoys live music, mountain biking, fly fishing, and hanging with friends.

Christopher Goemans is a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at Colorado State University. Dr. Goemans holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Colorado. In addition to his current position, his past work experience includes consulting on projects focused on topics ranging from the cost-benefit analysis of proposed water projects to forecasting urban demands for water to evaluating the impacts of reallocating water among competing uses. He also spent time researching water markets in New Zealand while serving as a visiting scholar at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. Dr. Goemans’ selected past research includes investigating: the impact of water transfers from agricultural to non-agricultural use, the relationship between climatic variability and the effectiveness of various water management schemes, optimal demand management strategies during periods of drought, and most recently, using experimental economics techniques to evaluate the performance of water markets under different institutional settings. Relevant publications include: “Western Water Markets: Effectiveness and Efficiency.” , “Estimating the Economic and Social Impacts from the Drought in Southern Colorado”, “Changing climate, changing minds? The effects of natural disasters on public perceptions of climate change.”, “The Interaction of Water Restriction and Pricing Policies: Econometric, Managerial, and Distributional Implications.”, “Complements of the House: Estimating demand-side linkages between residential water and electricity.”, “Western Households’ Water Knowledge, Preferences, and Willingness to Pay”, and “Modeling Commercial Demand for Water: Exploring alternative prices, instrumental variables, and heterogeneity.”

Chris Matkins has broad experience in water and wastewater planning, engineering, and utility management. Recently serving as General Manager of the Fort Collins – Loveland Water District and the South Fort Collins Sanitation District, he has led these enterprises through progressive changes in preparation for the future. Prior to the Districts, Chris also served as Water Utilities Manager for the City of Loveland, another position responsible for the management of raw water; water treatment production and distribution; wastewater collection, treatment, and discharge to the environment.  His areas of expertise include Organizational Leadership; Financial Cost of Service; Operational and Engineering Management; Water Supply Planning and Development, and Hydraulic and Infrastructure Engineering.

Chris has worked in the water industry for over 25 years, primarily in Northern Colorado. He has recently started Ally Utility Consulting, a company dedicated to supporting utility enterprises.  Chris is a registered professional engineer and received B.S. and M.S. degrees in Civil Engineering from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.  Chris prioritizes time with his family, enjoying bicycling, backpacking, kayaking, skiing, and all of Colorado’s natural beauty.

Kate Ryan is a water lawyer who joined the Water Trust in 2018 and was appointed as Executive Director in 2023. As a lawyer, the very first case she took through water court was for the Colorado Water Trust’s Three Sisters Ditch project on Hermosa Creek. She was a private practice attorney for several years and also represented state water agencies through the Attorney General’s Office. Kate’s past clients included farmers, ranchers, municipalities, landowners, the CWCB and the Water Trust itself. Before going to Berkeley Law she obtained a master’s degree in geography at the University of Colorado and worked as an associate scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Kate does her work at the Colorado Water Trust in order to support that which she holds most dear–our incredible state and the people within, the beautiful rivers and mountains we explore, and a future for her kids where they can continue to experience it all.

For over 25 years, Dena Egenhoff has been a noteworthy leader in the water industry. From water chemistry to watersheds, she has worked at the Federal, State, and local levels protecting water resources. In Dena’s current capacity, she serves as the Water Conservation Manager for the City of Greeley. Her role is to optimize, innovate and improve water efficiencies through data-informed priorities and decisions for Greeley’s customers.  

Dena earned a Bachelor of Science degree from NMU in Marquette, Michigan and Master of Science degree from CSU in Fort Collins, Colorado. She is also the Rocky Mountain Section AWWA Co-Chair for Conservation and is considered a nerdy scientist that can speak to the public.  

Karen Schlatter is the Associate Director of the Colorado Water Center at Colorado State University. She leads the development and implementation of the Center’s outreach and engagement strategy, specializing in stakeholder engagement, water education, watershed planning and management, and dialogue facilitation. Karen previously led landscape-scale restoration of the Colorado River Delta in Mexico for a decade, combining the hydro-ecological-social science of restoration and monitoring with binational partnership building and local community engagement. More recently, she worked to improve water management in Florida through projects related to climate, water quality and aquatic habitat, agricultural management practices, and wildlife corridors. Karen has a B.S. in biology from McGill University and an M.S. in environmental studies from the University of Colorado Boulder. She served as an agricultural extension volunteer in the Peace Corps in Paraguay.

Adam Jokerst is the Rocky Mountain Regional Director for WestWater Research, a leading economic consulting firm providing water market research, valuation, policy, and transaction advisory. Adam has worked on Western water issues for over 15 years and has overseen long-range water supply planning, water acquisitions, water rights protection, and water storage programs.  

Adam holds a B.S. in Biological and Agricultural engineering from the University of Arkansas and a M.S. in Civil Engineering from Colorado State University.  He is a licensed professional engineer in Colorado.

Calar Chaussee has been the Mayor of Wellington for two years, and he runs Scott’s Loveland Auto. He is a Colorado native and grew up in northern Colorado.

“Wellington over the last several years has faced issues with water and we are currently constructing our new treatment and wastewater plants which will be completely online fall of this year.”

James “JC” Cox is a born and raised Coloradoan.  He grew up in Ft. Collins in the 1980’s and has lived in Wellington since 2006.  Having seen the massive growth in the front range over the past four decades he understands the critical nature of a solid infrastructure within the utilities provided to the residents in the area.  JC is a local financial planner and accredited investment fiduciary and has enjoyed a successful business in Fort Collins for over 15 years.  He has a wife, two kids, three dogs, and enjoys world travel, reading, running, and pickleball.  He has committed time in the past to chair positions in local PTO, Parks Advisory Board, and as a member of the Poudre School District Advisory Committee.

Poudre Pioneer Winner

Randy Gustafson is a local of Northern Colorado. He grew up in the farming communities of Galeton and Ault, later attending Aims Community College and CSU. He started his career in the Poudre Basin in the late 1970’s when he took his first role with the City of Greeley where he lived at Seaman Reservoir for 20 years. Randy worked his way up to the Water Source Supply Manager where he managed the maintenance and operation of Greeley’s High Mountain Reservoir system. As part of this role and as a member of the agricultural community he has acted on the board and in support of the Laramie Poudre Tunnel, Collins Lateral, Pierce Lateral, Water Supply and Storage Company, Larimer-Weld Irrigation Company, New Cache, and the New Mercer Ditch Companies. Notably, he acted with agricultural entities to purchase and sell water and helped to develop the Bob Creek Diversion that brings Laramie River water to the Poudre Basin.

Randy is known for his role as a convener and as someone who can get stuff done. He represented Greeley’s interest in four wildfire events in the Poudre Basin: the Picnic Rock, Hewlett Gulch, High Park and Cameron Peak fires. His action in this post fire response catalyzed Greeley into their current role as a leader in Post Fire recovery in Northern Colorado.

Randy officially retired from his work with Greeley in 2022 but continues to work for Greeley on a part time basis. He now spends his free time with his family and tending to his property.

Keynote Speaker

Robert Sakata serves as the Colorado Department of Agriculture Water Policy Advisor, a new position approved by the 2023 legislative session, beginning his new position in January 2024.

The establishment of an agriculture ag water policy advisor ensures that there is a dedicated liaison between CDA and other state agency partners who work with agricultural stakeholders, including the Colorado Water Conservation Board, the Colorado Water Quality Control Division, and the State Engineer’s office. Robert will focus on building relationships with water entities and organizations around the state while still acting as president of Sakata Farms in Brighton, Colorado.

Robert has a wide range of water experiences beyond his family’s irrigated farming operation, where he currently serves on the mutual ditch company board of directors for the Brighton, Fulton and New Brantner Irrigation Ditch Companies. He previously was appointed to serve on the Agriculture Groundwater Advisory Board that was formed as a result of SB90-126. Because of his role on the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission, where he was appointed by 4 different governors, he has already spent more than 15 years in State service. Additionally, he served on the Colorado Foundation for Water Education Board of Directors (now known as Water Education Colorado), where he helped put together the first Water Quality Citizen’s Guide.

When the basin roundtables were formed in 2005 as a result of the Colorado Water for the 21st Century Act, Robert joined the Metro Basin Roundtable and served as the agricultural representative, helping form the non-profit Colorado Ag Water Alliance. During that time, he served as a Governor appointee to the InterBasin Compact Committee until his appointment to the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) in 2021. He served 3 years on the Colorado Water Congress Board of Directors before beginning his current role with the Colorado Department of Agriculture. Robert will remain active with the CWCB Board of Directors by acting as the Commissioner’s proxy when needed and attending meetings in his new capacity.

Robert was born and raised in Colorado and has been involved in numerous farm organizations. Beginning in 1989, he served on the Adams County Farm Bureau Board, leading to further involvement on the American Farm Bureau Federation National Horticulture Advisory Committee. In 1997, he was elected to the Colorado Onion Association board of directors and later served on the National Onion Association Board of Trustees. In 2013, with the help of dedicated CSU Cooperative Extension staff, he helped form the Colorado Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association (CFVGA) and served as the founding president until his appointment to the CWCB. The formation of the CFVGA has led to a lasting partnership with the Western Growers Association.

Having grown up on the family farm, Robert attributes his hard work ethic and desire to serve the community from the inspirational example that his parents set as well as motivation to become involved in other areas including the Adams County Open Space Advisory Board, Adams County Cooperative Extension Advisory Committee, CSREES Northern Plains and Mountain Region Advisory member, Colorado Ag Council (chair in 2011), and National Produce Safety Training Advisory Council. Robert is thrilled to be able to apply his farming experience in this new role with the Department of Agriculture, especially since food and water connect us all.






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