The Castle Rock town council hears the pitch from the WISE partners touting the project as a long-term source to replace non-renewable groundwater

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From the Parker Chronicle (Rhonda Moore):

Aurora Mayor Ed Tauer made the opening remarks to introduce the team that presented the Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency proposal, the last of four bids submitted to the town of Castle Rock. The WISE proposal is a partnership between the Denver and Aurora water departments and the South Metro Water Supply Authority, a co-op of 15 Douglas and Arapahoe county metro districts and municipalities. The authority, which includes the towns of Castle Rock and Parker, has been working since 2008 with Denver and Aurora to draft the WISE proposal, touted as a financial boon for Aurora Water and a first-of-its kind regional water partnership for the Front Range…

The presentation was made before a joint meeting between the town’s utilities commission and Castle Rock town council, which will eventually make the decision on which provider reaps the benefits of an investment worth millions in the town’s long-term water future…

If Castle Rock opts to go with WISE, it will be a permanent agreement and water will be delivered to a master meter. The authority’s cooperating agencies will be responsible for delivery of water from the master meter to their respective customers. The estimated cost to Castle Rock residents to complete that cycle is expected to be upwards of $200 million, said Ron Redd, Castle Rock utilities director and executive director of the South Metro Water Supply Authority. The final estimate will be assessed when the town’s utilities department compares the bids on the table for council recommendation, he said, and it is possible the town could ask voters for a tax increase to finance the long-term water plan. The cost of water purchased in the WISE plan will vary from year to year, depending on rates determined by Denver and Aurora. Water rates will be based on a calculation that compares to that used to calculate cost to the providers’ existing customers, said Mark Pifher, director of Aurora Water…

“Both Denver and Aurora are longtime commitments. We’ll be here a long time,” Pifher said. “You’ll know where to find us 50 years from now if you have a problem under the contract. When you look at WISE, it’s the quintessential conservation project, it maximizes the efficient use of resources we already have.”[…]

Town councilmembers asked the utilities department to arrange public hearings to gauge input from the community before making its decision. Town staff plans to meet in the coming weeks to decide on the next steps and timelines for bringing the water provider information to residents, said Kim Mutchler, Castle Rock spokeswoman.

More coverage of the WISE project from Sara Castellanos writing for the Aurora Sentinel. From the article:

Aurora struck a tenative deal Oct. 4 that will grant water to 15 water providers in Douglas and Arapahoe counties in times when Aurora has excess, and that will likely be most of the time. Aurora Water Spokesman Greg Baker said the proposal is momentous. “What makes it historic is the fact that you had all these entities and they came to a consensus on how to solve an issue of this scale,” Baker said.

Aurora Water, Denver Water and the South Metro Water Supply Authority — which represents 15 water providers in Douglas and Arapahoe counties — formed a partnership that will provide the southern metro water authority with at least 5,000 acre-feet of water per year by June 2013 and at least 10,000 acre-feet per year by 2020. The amount of water delivered annually could eventually equal up to 60,000 acre-feet per year. Denver Water will also be able to access its unused water supplies in the South Platte River to make it available to water entities in the water authority or use the same infrastructure to use the water in Denver for emergency use. Denver Water can also provide 3,000 acre-feet of water currently allocated to DIA. The partnership is dubbed WISE, Water Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency.

The partnership is crucial for the authority, which has historically been mostly reliant on groundwater and deepwater nonrenewable aquifers. The aquifers, and wells, are hundreds of feet deep into the ground and extract water as old as the glacial period, Baker said. It takes decades and sometimes even centuries for the water to replenish, Baker said…

Aurora will receive a substantial revenue stream from the deal — equal to a net revenue of about $10 million per year after 2020. The water authority is paying for a $20-million expansion to Prairie Waters slated for completion by 2020, and they are leasing the water at a rate of $5.38 per thousand gallons, which is more than the $5.27 that Aurora residents pay for water rates. The deal will benefit Aurora residents in that their water rates will remain stable, Baker said.

More WISE project coverage here.

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