Denver Water sets course for 2015

Ashland Reservoir roof construction via Denver Water
Ashland Reservoir roof construction via Denver Water

Here’s the release from Denver Water (Stacy Chesney/Travis Thompson):

At its meeting today, the Denver Board of Water Commissioners adopted rate changes to fund essential repairs and upgrades to Denver Water’s system in 2015.

The required revenues for 2015 equate to a rate increase of less than $1 per month on average for Denver residential customers and are needed to help fund a number of multi-year projects, such as replacing failing underground storage tanks and aging pipes, upgrading water treatment facilities to maintain water quality and meet new regulatory requirements, and rehabilitating Antero Dam in Park County and Marston Dam in Lakewood, Colo.

“Like water providers across the country, Denver Water faces many challenges to ensure we are providing our customers with a clean, safe, reliable supply of water,” said Jim Lochhead, CEO/manager of Denver Water. “From upgrading our aging facilities and staying ahead of regulatory requirements, to planning water projects in the face of climate change and much more, we are working hard to provide Denver Water customers high-quality water and reliable service every day, 24/7.”

Effective February 2015, the revenue increase of 2.2 percent equates to a rate increase of $0.95 per month on average for Denver residential customers using 115,000 gallons annually (the average annual consumption for Denver Water’s entire PDF document service area). The amounts will vary depending upon customer water usage and whether the customer lives in Denver or is served by a suburban distributor under contract with Denver Water. Customers in Denver tend to use less than 115,000 gallons per year; suburban customers tend to use more.

Under the 2015 rates, customers living in Denver will still pay among the lowest water rates in the metro area, and rates for suburban Denver Water residential customers will fall at or below the median among area water providers.

“It’s all connected,” said Lochhead. “Denver Water’s infrastructure is not just pipes and reservoirs. It includes millions of acres of Colorado forests and thousands of miles of rivers and streams, which Coloradans love. Denver Water is committed to investing money and resources to continue to strengthen the health of those rivers and streams. We have a responsibility to the environment in which we operate.”

Denver Water operates and maintains more than 3,000 miles of distribution pipe — enough to stretch from Los Angeles to New York — as well as 19 reservoirs, 22 pump stations, 30 underground storage tanks, four treatment plants and more. The water provider’s collection system covers more than 4,000 square miles and operates facilities in 12 counties in Colorado.

Moody’s Investors Service recently upgraded Denver Water’s revenue bonds from Aa1 to Aaa, its highest rating. “Denver Water is one of only 10 utilities in the country to receive this rating,” said Lochhead. “This upgrade is a result of having a well-maintained system and strong management team focused on long-term planning. Along with receiving the highest ratings from Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings, this top rating allows Denver Water to borrow money for major capital projects at a much lower cost.”

Denver Water is a public agency funded by water rates, hydropower sales, fees for new service (tap fees), bond sales and cash reserves, not taxes. Water rates are designed to recover the costs of providing water service — including maintenance of pipes, reservoirs, pump stations and treatment plants — and also encourage efficiency by charging higher prices for increased water use. Most of Denver Water’s annual costs are fixed and do not vary with the amount of water sold.

More Denver Water coverage here.

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