Greeley: City council is considering big rate increases and agressive purchases of water rights

A picture named poudreriver

From The Greeley Tribune (Chris Casey):

…the council favors aggressively buying water — as much as $90 million worth during the next six years — an approach officials say will cost residents in the near term but offer long-range savings and security. If the city goes that route, said water and sewer director Jon Monson, water rates would rise about 84 percent in the next 10 years, equating to $30 per single-family home per month. That’s compared to rates rising, if no additional water is bought, 47 percent in the next decade, or $17 per home. Monson presented the water outlook at Tuesday’s council work session.

Greeley’s current average water bill is $45.83 per month, he said. If the city added the $13 per month to water bills for the $90 million water acquisition, rates would be in the upper third of Colorado Front Range cities if other cities do not change their rates…

Greeley’s existing water supplies will keep up with the city’s growth — a 2.25 average rate in recent years — for 20 to 25 years, Monson said. “But we firmly believe now if we do this revolving fund … that water may be gone by the time we need it,” he said. Under the revolving plan, Monson said, Greeley would have to wait 10 to 15 years to start to cash-fund additional water supplies. But, if water is available at all, it would be extremely expensive, adversely affecting future growth, density and irrigation. Compounding the problem, he said, is the fact that other Front Range cities are ramping up water purchases and projects in the wake of the 2002 drought. For example, Monson said, Aurora is spending $800 million on a water project. Monson pointed out that Greeley would also need to add staff — at least several positions — in order to increase the city’s supplies. Although Greeley is a statewide leader in conservation, the city, without additional acquisition, would still exceed its supplies by 2038 or 2040, Monson said…

Under the water acquisition option, the city would, as it has historically done, rent annual excess supplies back to agriculture at cost. Plants such as Leprino Foods require substantial water resources, and council members pointed to the importance of agricultural partnerships to the city’s economic future. Norton said such partnerships with agriculture are “what northern Colorado is all about.”

More Greeley coverage here.

Leave a Reply