Denver Water 
Beginner level

Continuous improvement at Denver Water

Manufacturing excellence principles in a public sector utility

How lean at Denver Water works

Lean is transforming Denver Water from within and relies on its internal experts to make improvements and changes. Changes are not decided on by management or outside entities — but by employees. Learn how Denver Water is using 2P (Process Preparation) and 6S to reduce the size of its campus build by over 25 percent. You will also see up close how lean is applied to a Denver Water treatment plant.


The tour will begin with a classroom presentation, followed by three site visits to areas where lean principles are being applied to water utility operations. Special focus will be on how Denver Water has used lean to reduce inventory, customer service trips and capital costs for our new operations complex.


Denver Water proudly serves high-quality water and promotes its efficient use to 1.3 million people in the city of Denver and many surrounding suburbs. Established in 1918, the utility is a public agency funded by water rates and new tap fees, not taxes. It is Colorado's oldest and largest water utility. Denver Water’s history is one of providing excellent customer service at low rates, anticipating and planning for the future, and applying a continuous improvement mindset to all it does.

Tour Host

Grace Wilcox is the lean program manager and was instrumental in bringing continuous improvement to Denver Water. Prior to her time in lean, she served as Denver Water’s budget manager for eight years. Wilcox has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Michigan State University and a master’s degrees in public administration and urban planning from the University of Colorado.

Restrictions / Requirements

To participate in a tour, all attendees must wear leather-like, closed toe shoes (no high heels), long pants and a long or short-sleeved shirt/blouse. Non-adherence to noted restrictions/requirements may exclude you from a tour.