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  • Writer's pictureEric Burtzlaff, PE

Denver Water Drops Dropbox. Engineers Rejoice!

It's a Christmas Miracle! Denver Water has moved on from their Dropbox system era and moved into their new Plan Review Portal era. I'm not doing a very good job hiding my opinion of the old system but let me explain why I believe this is a fantastic change.

Why the old system was broken:

Dropbox is a one-way system the way Denver Water used it. We create a folder, we share it, they accept it, they e-mail us comments, we address them, we create new folder, share it, they e-mail comments, etc...

For a company that does as many Denver Water plans as ours, it created a huge organizational headache and made consistency nearly impossible not just from our team but also the Denver Water reviewers. Enough of talking about the past, lets look to the future here!

The New Plan Review Portal:

If you read my article about the new testing protocol (link here), you know they are now requiring all submitting civil engineers to have knowledge of their requirements and pass a test. This new plan review portal is the next step in that process (which is good). To get permission to submit, you need to pass the test. From there, I'll walk through a couple basic screenshots/steps for making your submittal. Huge disclaimer here: this is new so I've only submitted one plan set thus far, so we are going to walk through that experience.

Step 1: Go to the plan review portal HERE, login, and select the 'Plan Reviews' tab at the top of the page (4th tab).

Step 2: You should be looking at a similar screen below and you will have the option to make a submittal (or request existing project access). We'll focus only on adding a new plan review to the portal in this article for time sake (but you are a good engineer and I believe that you'll be able to figure out the requesting access to an existing project)

Step 3: Once you've selected that, you'll need to enter your project information. The screen will look like this. Again, you are a good, smart engineer and no further explanation needed here.

Step 4: You will be taken to your plan submittal page where you can drop in your required plans and other deliverables. This one was a little confusing as you need to select a tab and upload ONLY that deliverable then go to the next tab and do the same. The deliverables with asterisks are your required submittals. For example, in the screenshot below, CAD and PDF are required for pre-submittal and those have the asterisk.

Step 5: You will hit upload on the plan submittal and it will go out to be assigned to a plan reviewer. If you don't provide the required items, you will not be allowed to upload. Also, if you accidentally uploaded all your deliverables to one tab like I did, you can hit reset and try again.

What I'm excited about:

The all-in-one interface of submittals, comments, review progress, messages, and each project review coordinator. This is going to be such a time saver for our team which has dozens of Denver Water projects running at one time typically. This also will ensure nothing ever gets lost again which happened a ton in the old system.

What I want to see added:

At this point, you may be asking yourself, "Hey Eric, didn't you just say like 4 paragraphs ago that this is your first time using the portal", well that may be true, but I'm still going to throw out three immediate ideas that I'd love to see implemented with this new system over time to fully integrate:

  1. I would really like to see the informal Denver water submittal process included in this portal. That process is so challenging and things get lost so often by the district as it's just plans being e-mailed to a random denverwater e-mail address. I'd love to see a similar "informal submittal" tab where they list Utility Plan, OK from Fire, and fixture counts and it is logged in the system as well. PLEASE?!

  2. Organizational awareness: I know you can request access to existing projects but that's not the same as everyone from my organization being able to see the organization's projects in whole. We could set it so the person who logged it in gets an e-mail or maybe we could set an 'organization e-mail' that everything goes to when alerts are ready. I see a number of possible hiccups if people create logs and leave companies and we are back to the same dropbox system as before. The login already requires listing your organization, it'd be great to implement something like this. I'd love if any member of staff could log into the portal and get an update on any project in our whole company if needed.

  3. Form Management: I'd love to see a digital place for digital signatures on water supply licenses, fixture counts, demand forms, and any other form where the reviewer could link them to the portal and we could easily share with client for signature like docusign. Oh and maybe clients could pay fees through the portal too? That'd be awesome.

Huge moves by Denver Water and this is such a significant upgrade that I rushed to the blog to write an article on my birthday. I hope this helped you learn the ways of Denver Water going into 2024.

Birthday Surprise:

Since it's my birthday, lets have some fun. Here's a couple things I wanted to include or explain, but this is a very professional blog post with little room for fun:

  1. Yes, that was a Taylor Swift Eras tour reference at the top. The idea of a Denver Water Eras Tour made me chuckle so I went with it.

  2. I desparately wanted to make a reference to the South Park Underpants gnomes for Step 3. Just making Step 3: "Profit??" with no additional explanation. I figured that may actually take away from the educational value of this post. Oh well.

  3. An Old School reference "At this point, you may be asking yourself, why am I holding this 30 pound cinderblock in my hands". You should read that line in Owen Wilson's voice. Wow.

  4. Lets create some DWD lore. That random denverwater e-mail address I reference above is hilarious to me. The e-mail is: Notice the '2' in there. The email used to not have that '2' in it and about 2-3 years ago (maybe more?) they changed it to now having the '2'. I like to believe that someone lost the password to the other e-mail and they had no way of accessing it, and had to create a second account to keep the informal process moving in real time as IT was backed up that week, and by the time IT got to the issue, it was too late. The second account lives forever. Again, no information to back that up, it's a fictional narrative I've made up that makes me smile so we'll roll with it. That said, it's canon now.

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