Anne Castle, 2023 Diane Hoppe Leadership Award

On Wednesday, September 6, 2023, Water Education Colorado recognized Anne Castle with the 2023 Diane Hoppe Leadership Award. Read more about the award and past award winners here. 

Anne Castle has amassed a remarkable body of accomplishments during her 40-plus-year career in Colorado water. She has shepherded innovative concepts into “firsts” in Colorado water law, directed science and water policy at the federal level, worked to solve complex and combative Colorado River challenges, and led efforts to obtain and enhance clean water supplies for tribal nations.

Anne found her career proceeding roughly parallel to that of her friend Ken Salazar, who began as a private practice water lawyer and then dealt with major water issues when he served as Colorado Attorney General. In January of 2009, Salazar was the incoming U.S. Secretary of the Interior for the Obama administration, and he recruited Anne to serve as Assistant Secretary for Water and Science for the U.S. Department of the Interior. In this post, she exercised management, budget and policy authority over both Reclamation and the U.S. Geological Survey. She describes her work there as having been both challenging and rewarding, as she dealt every day with the most complex, important water issues facing the nation.

While at Interior, Anne spearheaded Reclamation’s WaterSMART program, which provides federal funding to support sustainable water supplies. She was the driving force behind the 2010 Memorandum of Understanding among Interior, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers addressing the development of sustainable hydropower. She also launched the federal Open Water Data Initiative in an attempt to make the fragmented universe of water data more integrated and accessible. She found the career staff at Interior to be extremely knowledgeable and mission driven, and a crucial resource in addressing the Colorado River issues that were a focus for her. Working in the high-stakes environment of Washington, D.C., provided an acute understanding of how critical it is to include the perspectives of different “sides” approaching any issue. She strove to broaden the context of those in the water community involved in negotiations to allow progress toward more creative solutions.

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic revealed the connection between lack of access to clean drinking water and high rates of illness and deaths among Native Americans. The Biden administration’s subsequent focus on both environmental justice issues and infrastructure improvement helped create traction for legislation and policy changes to fill the gaps in federal programs designed to serve the long-neglected need for access to clean drinking water for all tribal communities. In 2022, Anne was appointed by President Biden as the U.S. Commissioner for the Upper Colorado River Commission, where she continues to serve, at a time of increased pressure on achieving a sustainable system.

Currently, Anne is a senior fellow at the Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy, and the Environment at the University of Colorado Law School, focusing on Western water issues, including Colorado River policy and management. She leads and supports efforts to advance water sustainability in the Western U.S. including better measurement and reporting of water data, policies supporting the value of water staying in rivers, and universal access to clean water for tribes.

Castle received a Bachelor of Science degree in applied mathematics from the University of Colorado, College of Engineering, primarily to prove to her father that girls could do math. Her J.D. was also from the University of Colorado, qualifying her as a “Double Buff.” She lives with her husband of 48 years, Frank Daviess, and misses her two kids, Chris and Beth Daviess, who live in New York and California, respectively. Chris will become a father in August 2023 and thereby provide Frank and Anne’s first grandchild.

As a recognized leader with over four decades of Western, national, and international success in water law and policy and an ongoing quest to achieve sustainability and justice in Western water, Anne is a most worthy recipient of WEco’s 2023 Diane Hoppe Leadership Award.


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