Photo by Tom Ross
Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District General Manager John Fetcher, left, and Stagecoach Dam Manager Dan Ellertson inspect the turbine room in August 2007.
Steamboat Springs John Fetcher has decided that at age 96, it might be time to semi-retire from his post as general manager of the Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District.
"I suppose the day will come when I will have to quit," Fetcher said Monday. "Perhaps sometime this fall, but I would probably stay on part time."
The water conservancy's board has run a help wanted ad inviting candidates to contact Fetcher for a complete job description.
Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger is chairman of the conservancy district. He credited Fetcher and Steamboat Springs water attorney (and board member) Tom Sharp with pushing for passage of the tax question that underwrote the construction of Stagecoach Reservoir.
"He and Tom Sharp got the ballot proposal ratified," Monger said.
The Colorado Legislature has authorized local water conservancies across the state to act as a form of local government. Their status allows them to seek permission to levy property taxes to build and own water projects.
Fetcher helped to create the Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District in 1966. He said his proudest achievement in 42 years was helping to get Yamcolo Reservoir, in the Flat Tops Wilderness area south of Yampa, constructed.
"Yamcolo was an absolute godsend to the ranchers," Fetcher said. "In 1977, the year of the terrible drought, some of the ranchers in Yampa couldn't take any water out of the river because it wasn't flowing. They didn't put up a single bale of hay and had to sell off their cattle. Since Yamcolo filled, we've had adequate irrigation supplies for all of the ranching community."
Fetcher said he has interviewed two candidates for the job and intends to recommend three finalists to the board.
The job description says the successful applicant will have at least 10 years experience in management, budgeting, finance and capital project and development of water districts. They also must have knowledge of water rights and water administration.
Resumes are being accepted until June 7.
Monger said the permitting process for water projects has grown increasingly complex in recent years.
"We continue working on projects," Monger said. "I think John (Fetcher) would tell you he needed one permit to build Steamboat Lake and three or four to build Yamcolo. We're trying to add 4 feet to the top of the Stagecoach dam, and we've been in the process now for three years."