Northern Integrated Supply Project: Fort Morgan Water Advisory Board still on board

A picture named nisp2

From The Fort Morgan Times (John Brennan):

“The more we sit and discuss these things, the more NISP sounds like the best option,” said Fort Morgan City Council member James Powers, who represents the council as an ex officio member of the water advisory board.

At Wednesday’s session the water board heard a presentation from Tom Ullman of The Engineering Company, who is also in the process of performing a water and sewer rate study for the city. Ullman’s presentation Wednesday, however, was an analysis of the impact on city water rates of NISP as compared to what he called “the C-BT alternative.” That alternative would have the city purchasing an equivalent amount of Colorado-Big Thompson water — the city’s primary supply now — to equal the amount of water NISP is expected to yield to the city when it is built and operational. Based on what Ullman presented, though, the C-BT proposal hardly seemed to be an alternative at all — and several in the room said so. “Maybe we should take the C-BT option off the table, because it’s not viable,” Powers said…

In addition to costing the city millions of dollars more than NISP, according to the latest and best estimates Ullman had, the C-BT alternative assumes that the city would be able to purchase the additional C-BT water it needs. That assumption is by no means a safe one. The amount of C-BT water is finite, and shrinking all the time, water board members have said. And while prices for C-BT shares are attractive now, because of a slowdown in development due to the recession, nobody knows whether sufficient C-BT water to supply the city’s needs will be available at any price in the future…

Another variable is that the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District — which supplies the city with its C-BT water and is also spearheading NISP — has announced plans to cap the ownership level of C-BT shares for any one owner, but the city does not yet know what its cap will be. Even if enough C-BT water were available, the price fluctuates greatly with demand and it’s impossible to predict what prices may do. C-BT water has been selling in the range of about $8,000 to $9,000 a share in the past year, and Dreessen suggested that any C-BT water to be had at less than $10,000 a share was “just gravy.”[…]

The average city residential customer who uses 10,000 gallons of water a month pays a monthly bill of $56.30 now, Ullman said. Under the NISP scenario, that bill would increase by about 30 percent — or about $16.95 a month — between now and 2024. Those increases would come in 10 percent increments, in 2015, 2016 and 2023. Under the C-BT alternative — if it were even feasible — the cost for the average homeowner would go up by an additional $9.35 more than the NISP increase, or closer to 50 percent higher than today, by 2027…

The water advisory board also welcomed a new member at Wednesday’s meeting. Heath Kuntz has taken the place of former member Brent Nation, who assumed his position on the Fort Morgan City Council on Tuesday. Nation, a water engineer who owns Nation Engineering, had resigned at last month’s water board meeting because of his election to the city council. Kuntz is a city resident who has extensive experience in water issues. He has worked for water advisory board Chairman Jack Odor at General Appropriators of the South Platte as well as for Nation in the past, and now works for Leonard Rice Water Consulting Engineers on the Front Range. The board also re-elected Odor as its chairman, Jim Green as vice chairman and Bill Baker as secretary, and reviewed revisions to its bylaws. The bylaws will be forwarded to the city council for approval.

More Morgan County coverage here. More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here and here.

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