Obituary of Peter Douglas Binney
Peter D. Binney passed away on February 28, 2023 at the age of 70. He was born on 7 December 1952 in Invercargill, the southernmost city of New Zealand and raised in Tauranga, Bay of Plenty on the North Island. There he led an adventurous life by the sea with his parents, Hugh and June (who predeceased him) and his siblings John (Sandra), Lynley Whitaker (Royce), David (Lindy), Sue Stowell (Greg) and Rob (Fiona).
Peter earned both a Bachelor of Science degree and Master of Engineering (Civil) degree from the University of Canterbury in Christchurch New Zealand. His first professional hiring was with Beca Carter Hollings & Ferner, LTD, a New Zealand and Australia based firm which took him to Jakarta, Indonesia. While there, he decided to leave for the United States to the University of Colorado (Boulder) to work on his skiing skills and a Master of Science degree, focused on water resources, earned in 1978. There he met Deborah Stevens and they were married in 1979. Peter is survived by Deborah and their two sons Michael (Audra) and James "Jake" (Leea Kuronen) and by Michael's and Audra's two daughters Reese and Lilah who Peter absolutely adored with a tenderness reserved just for them.
Peter went on to work at various engineering firms in Portland, Oregon and Denver, Colorado. Twenty years were spent with CH2MHill and he retired in 2018 from Denver-based Merrick and Company. Throughout much of his career he traveled domestically and internationally to negotiate, design, advise and acquire government approvals and permits. If this required shots of a country's signature beverage in the early morning or touring a prospective site while supervised by armed militia, Peter was all in! In more secure surroundings he wrote and published countless papers and studies which he presented around the world representing the firms he worked for and the many professional organizations to which he belonged. Peter was awarded the President's Medal by the American Society of Civil Engineers an 2011 and was made a Fellow of that organization in 2015. He also was presented with the General Palmer Award (outstanding engineer in industry) by the American Council of Engineering Companies, Colorado Chapter in 2008.
It was integral in Peter's work to be particularly well-versed in water rights and laws and this especially fueled his success when he served as the Director of Aurora Water for the City of Aurora, Colorado beginning in 2002, at the start of severe drought in the American West. There he conceived the Prairie Waters Project, an innovative "drought proof" plan to provide for the current and future water needs of Aurora's residents. At the project's heart, the eponymous Peter D. Binney Water Purification Facility has been called a marvel of engineering. The project won the Project Management Institute's Project of the Year Award in 2011, and he has been praised by the U.S. Department of the Interior for its impact and vision. During this time and in many other situations, Peter had to boldly make difficult decisions that could be unpopular and controversial.
The ASCE published the following after his death: "Binney, P.E., ENV SP, F.ASCE devoted his entire career to water resources and sustainable infrastructure. With his expertise in (ratings and performance) of sustainable infrastructure as well as mediation and resolution of issues on complex public infrastructure projects, Binney was key in the development and launch of Envision, co-created by ASCE, the American Council of Engineering Companies, and the American Public Works Association through the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure."
Everyone who knew Peter was well aware that he never met a topic relating to water, history, science, politics or literature that he wouldn't banter about or debate. He was well practiced in being interviewed for his opinions and also to inform domestic and international audiences and the public about projects in which he was involved.
Peter had a great interest in travel and Deb, Mike and Jake together or individually accompanied him on deep sea fishing trips. One was during an attempted government coup in Venezuela, another to a remote lodge in the Panamanian jungle that required armed guards and several were on dangerously stormy seas in New Zealand. These trips paid off with the catching and releasing of a variety of species of marlin and even a "Grand Slam" which is when an individual catches at least three billfish species in one calendar day. Peter enjoyed being the representative for land-locked Colorado in the International Game Fish Association for a number of years.
Many people know that Peter accomplished much of this after being diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a rare blood cancer, in 2006. There were not many effective treatment options at the time but the staff of Colorado Blood Cancer Institute, affiliated with Presbyterian/St. Luke's Medical Center in Denver, kept one step ahead of his disease and provided him with a clinical trial (when his brother David traveled from New Zealand to donate his well-matched stem cells), novel medications and finally the amazingly successful CAR-T therapy which he went through during the fall of 2022. Words cannot express how thankful Peter's extended family is to the amazing group of professionals including doctors Peter McSweeney and Jeffrey Matous. Thanks are due to the staff in the ICU at Skyridge Medical Center in Lone Tree, Colorado for their compassionate and earnest efforts to quell the many complications of Covid pneumonia prior to his passing.
Donations would be welcome to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and to the organizations of choice known to be admired and appreciated by Peter.
Services to be announced at a later time.