Fort Morgan: Council retreat participants talk water

A picture named waterfromtap.jpg

From The Forgan Morgan Times (John Brennan):

Current council members, as well senior city staff and two new members who will join the council next month, discussed the city’s water situation and a variety of other topics during a council retreat Saturday morning at Memories Restaurant. Other topics on the meeting agenda included discussion of the city’s financial reserves; a review of the council’s rules of procedure; and the goals for the city’s new director of marketing and economic development. The first matter of business, though, was water…

[Director of Water Resources Gary Dreessen] presented charts showing the city’s supply compared to current demand in three different scenarios: with only the C-BT shares the city actually owns; with both owned and leased C-BT shares; and with a new supply from another project proposed by NCWCD, the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP).

“With NISP, we’re OK almost to 2050,” Dreessen said. “With just C-BT and leased (water), were in trouble by 2025.” Dreessen also noted that cost of C-BT water fluctuates with demand. While the price per unit has ranged as high as $16,000 to $18,000, the city was able to buy some shares this year for between $7,500 and $8,000 a share. The supply of C-BT water, however, is finite, and NCWCD officials expect it to run out of shares in about 10 years, he said.

The council has already agreed to participate in NISP, but the project will be costly — the city’s portion is expected to cost nearly $40 million. Water rates will have to be increased to help pay for the new supply.

“You’re going to have to make some tough decisions soon,” said Mayor Jack Darnell, who will leave office on Jan. 12 when new mayor-elect Terry McAlister takes over the mayor’s post. “Are you going to go with NISP? Is the council going to decide, or are you going to put it to a vote?”

Although the city would likely issue bonds to finance its share of NISP, Darnell also suggested the council consider starting with smaller increases in water rates soon, rather than waiting until the city’s NISP payments are due and hitting residents with a large increase all at once.

Projections included in Dreessen’s presentation showed the city will need to impose rate increases of 10 percent in 2015 and again in 2016, and another 7 percent in 2023.

More Morgan County coverage here.

Leave a Reply