Rebecca “Becky” Mitchell, who currently heads up the water supply planning section of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, today was named the agency’s new director, effective immediately.
Mitchell has been with the Department of Natural Resources since 2008 and joined the CWCB in 2009. She was selected as the next director by the agency’s 15-member board. The CWCB provides guidance on state water policy and is the state’s comprehensive source for water information, including technical assistance and training.
A native of Hawaii, Mitchell has lived in Colorado for the past 20 years. Colorado water has been the focus of her entire career.
She started off with an interest in the environment and biology but found water was her real passion. “Water is the corner in which I can make a difference,” she said.
That interest has taken her all over the world, but especially to Africa, and Ethiopia. Mitchell has five children, including several adopted from Ethiopia. She says she believes in giving back and has traveled to Ethiopia to help the country with water treatment as well as work on water systems for orphanages.
“It keeps you grounded in terms of why what you do is important,” she said.
“I’m excited and fortunate to have an opportunity to serve a state agency filled with committed and thoughtful stewards of Colorado’s precious water resources,” Mitchell said in a statement. “Coloradans and our water communities are working like never before to solve our state’s challenges collaboratively. The same kind of cooperation that led to Colorado’s Water Plan will fuel the long-running effort necessary to continue putting the plan into action. What a privilege to be part of this process.”
As section chief over water planning for the past five years, Mitchell has been a key liaison with water groups around the state, such as the basin roundtables, which represent environmental, recreational, agricultural, municipal and industrial water users in each of the state’s eight major river basins plus a separate group for metro Denver. She also has been responsible for directing and implementing the Statewide Water Supply Initiative, which provided some of the critical background data for the state water plan on water supply and demand.
Prior to joining CWCB, Mitchell served served as the Water Policy and Issues Coordinator within the Department of Natural Resources’ executive director’s office and in both the public and private sectors as a consulting engineer. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Colorado School of Mines.
Senate President Pro tem Jerry Sonnenberg of Sterling, a critic of the previous director, James Eklund, greeted the news of Mitchell’s appointment with enthusiasm. “I’m confident the new director will rebuild the relationships with the legislature and work with us rather than working on their own,” he said.
Conservation Colorado also viewed Mitchell’s appointment as a positive. “Our number one priority is to see the water plan implemented,” said Kristen Green of Conservation Colorado. Mitchell “knows the plan inside-out. She’s great at being collaborative and reaching out to different stakeholders.”
Photo of Becky Mitchell at Main Reservoir, Lakewood by Marianne Goodland