August 22, 2023 - The Colorado Department of Natural Resources and the Colorado Water Conservation Board announced that Lauren Ris has been selected as the next Director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board.
Lauren Ris, who has held the position of Deputy Director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) since 2017. She is a water policy expert who is passionate about solution-focused water resilience in the state.
”We are excited to welcome Lauren Ris at this important time as we continue to take bold and innovative action to preserve and protect Colorado's precious water resources. We know that here in Colorado, water is the lifeblood of our state and we will all benefit from Ris's leadership and expertise on this issue,” said Gov. Polis.
“What’s most inspiring to me about working in the water sphere, is the high degree of collaboration that’s required. It’s not a political issue, it’s a geographical issue—and water is a resource that every sector in Colorado can’t do without. It requires us to work together and find win-win solutions for hard problems,” said Lauren Ris, Director, Colorado Water Conservation Board. “Having grown up in Colorado, it’s important for me to see that we have a continued pathway for economic growth, agricultural viability and environmental resiliency in our state.”
Ris holds a Bachelors in English and Environmental Science from Willamette University and a Masters in Natural Resource Policy and Conservation Biology from the University of Michigan. She previously worked as a Committee and Policy Staff Fiscal Analyst for the Colorado Legislative Council, a Legislative Liaison for the Colorado Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Assistant Director for Water in the DNR, and most recently, the Deputy Director of the CWCB.
A major priority, Ris says, is continuing the momentum of the Colorado Water Plan. “We are positioned well with the recent release of the updated 2023 Water Plan, and it’s absolutely critical that now we check off the boxes and make real tangible progress.”
“I would like to see us find creative solutions that allow us to maximize every drop of water in Colorado,” said Ris. “That includes doubling down on municipal conservation efforts like urban landscape transformation. I’d also like us to take a hard look at some of the barriers that are impeding water sharing agreements–the creative, collaborative agreements that allow municipalities to lease water from agricultural operations during times when they aren’t irrigating while continuing to have viable agriculture.”
Ris also plans to ensure CWCB continues to support former CWCB Director Rebecca Mitchell in her new role of the State of Colorado’s Commissioner to the Upper Colorado River Commission—by providing the best policy and technical expertise to the state on the challenges facing the Colorado River Basin.
“I am extremely excited about Lauren Ris’ elevation to Director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board. Her leadership, insight, strong relationships, collaborative nature, and deep knowledge of Colorado water issues will enable her to seamlessly step into the Director role,” said Dan Gibbs, Executive Director, Colorado Department of Natural Resources. “Colorado faces many future water challenges, but Lauren has the experience and skills to help our state build on the great work of CWCB while ensuring the future sustainability of our critical water resources.”
“Ris has played a pivotal role in the agency for years and has provided seamless support as Interim Director,” said Greg Felt, Board Chair of the Colorado Water Conservation Board. “The agency, and Colorado's water future, will be in good hands under Lauren's leadership.”