Patrick Fitzgerald retired at the end of May after 47 years with Platte Canyon Water & Sanitation District. Pat joined the District in 1974 as a maintenance operator and became the District Manager in 1975. During his 47 years of service, Pat had a significant impact on the changes and challenges the district has faced, especially with its expansion from 300 customers to 7,000. Pat was instrumental in ensuring water and wastewater services were available to the growing district.
In addition to meeting the needs of Platte Canyon’s growth, he also took on the responsibility of supporting the expansion of the Southwest Metropolitan Water & Sanitation District. In 1977, Southwest Metro was experiencing tremendous growth of residential housing within its boundaries and realized they had a need for full time management and operation services.
One of Pat’s initial contributions to the Districts was his execution of an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) between Platte Canyon and Southwest Metro, which established operational and management collaborations with the two organizations to avoid duplicating services, staff, and equipment.
This partnership was one of Pat’s greatest accomplishments as District Manager. He states that it “led to more efficiency and reduced costs for both entities. Later IGA’s with the Bow Mar, Columbine and Valley districts vastly improved services provided by those districts and improved the efficiency of cost effectiveness to the combined district operations.”
Another great achievement he recalls was establishing Platte Canyon as a leader in the formation and management of the Denver Water Distributor Forum and the Rates and Fees Technical Advisory Committee (TAC). “Negotiations between Denver Water and the Rates and Fees TAC have saved distributor customers several million dollars in water rates over the past 20 years.”
In 2019, Pat was presented with the honorable “Years of Dedicated Service Award” at the annual Special District Association of Colorado conference (pictured above). This prominent award in the Special District community recognizes his many accomplishments as District Manager.
Pat has always made district customers his top priority. He is proud to have ensured safe, reliable water and excellent service was provided to District customers at an affordable rate. He felt that it was crucial to emphasize communication and transparency with District customers. “They are the employers that we work for,” he states.
One of the most challenging tasks Pat faced as District Manager was discovering that a significant portion of the District’s infrastructure was deteriorating and failing years before its expected useful life. This led to the establishment of an asset management and capital improvement program to respond to the need to upgrade, rehabilitate and replace aging infrastructure. “While this was challenging, the District’s Board of Directors, staff and consultants collaborated on the development of capital improvement plans and implementing funding sources to meet the challenge”.
When asked what the best advice he can pass along to his successor, Pat said “build trust through open and complete communications with the District’s Board of Directors. Develop a knowledgeable, dedicated staff and emphasize consistent improvement in knowledge and performance through training to improve current job duties as well as expand capabilities that benefit the employees as well as the District. Make Platte Canyon a fun and interesting place to work!”
Pat will miss most the camaraderie with the District staff and responding to the challenges faced by today’s water and wastewater utilities. “The industry is constantly changing with new environmental regulations, resource constraints, laws, employment rules and regulations, quickly evolving information technology tools and capabilities, and financial challenges that require constant education and change”.
Through exceptional leadership, Pat created a legacy with respect to the Front Range water and wastewater community, as well as the five districts he managed and its customers. Pat will be greatly missed in the community and especially at the districts he served. We wish you the best in your retirement and thank you for 47 remarkable years of hard work, dedication, and persistence!
Pat looks forward to traveling, spending more time with his wife, children and grandchildren and learning new skills such as fly fishing. Wishing you lots of “tight lines” and “bent rods” in your future, Pat!