Denver Water staff presented to the Board of Water Commissioners a preliminary proposal to adjust water rates for 2010 at its meeting Wednesday. The adjustment will help fund the utility’s 10-year capital plan.
The 10-year plan includes 300 projects, including upgrades to aging infrastructure to prevent putting reliable water service at risk.
The plan also calls for expansion of the utility’s system capacity to meet the future needs of its customers. Over the next 10 years, the utility plans to expand its recycled water system, enlarge Gross Reservoir by 18,000 acre-feet, finish developing gravel pits that store reusable water, and explore ways to work with other water providers to bring more supplies to its system.
Denver Water has determined the cost of making repairs and replacements to its aging infrastructure and building new supply within its system will total $1.3 billion over the next 10 years.
“Our water system is aging; some of our facilities are more than 100 years old. We need to be more proactive in our work to repair, maintain and upgrade our assets,” said Brian Good, director of operations and maintenance. “Next year’s projects include increased main replacements, more cement mortar lining of pipes to extend their useful life and upgrading underground vaults. We also will be doing major upgrades at the Marston Treatment Plant, replacing gates at Cheesman Dam that date back to the early 1900s, and installing a new hydropower turbine at Williams Fork Reservoir.”
In 2010 the water department will need an additional $13.5 million in revenue to cover rising costs associated with maintaining and improving the city’s water system. Denver Water owns and maintains 2,800 miles of distribution pipe — enough to stretch from Los Angeles to New York — as well as 12 raw water reservoirs, 22 pump stations and four treatment plants. Rehabilitation and replacement of infrastructure is needed throughout the water distribution system, much of which dates back to post-World War II installation or earlier.
Under the current rate proposal, average Denver residential customers would see their bills increase by about $40 a year — an average of $3.30 per month, or about $12 on a summer bill. Typical suburban residential customers served by Denver Water would see an increase of $51 per year — an average of $4.30 per month, or about $16 on a summer bill. The effects of the proposed changes on customer bills would vary depending upon the amount of water the customer uses and whether the customer lives in Denver or is served by a suburban distributor under contract with Denver Water; the more customers use, the more they will pay.
If the proposed adjustments are approved, they would take effect February 2010. Rates for Denver Water customers living inside the city would remain among the lowest in the metro area, while rates for Denver Water residential customers in the suburbs would still fall at or below the median among area water providers.
Denver Water is funded through rates and new tap fees, not taxes. Its rates are designed to recover the costs of providing reliable, high-quality water service and to encourage efficiency by charging higher prices for increased water use. Most of Denver Water’s costs are fixed and include maintenance of the system’s distribution pipes, reservoirs, pump stations and treatment plants. Denver Water also examines and adjusts its capital plan as necessary each year.
The Board is expected to vote on the proposed changes on Wednesday, Oct. 28, after considering public comment. Public comment will be taken at the Oct. 14, 9:15 a.m., and Oct. 28, 9 a.m., Board meetings. The meetings are open to the public and will be held at Denver Water, 1600 W. 12th Ave. Public comment also will be taken at Denver Water’s Citizen’s Advisory Committee meeting, Thursday, Oct. 15, 5:30 p.m., at Denver Water. Comments also may be sent to the Board via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Details of the 2010 rates proposal are posted. Members of the public who have questions about the proposed rate adjustment may call 303-628-6320.