From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel:
Rates are going up for Ute Water customers next year, for the fourth time in as many years at the utility, who announced they are adding $1 to customers’ minimum charge on bills to be delivered after Jan. 1.
The change brings the minimum charge for as many as 3,000 gallons from $19 to $20 and is intended to cover current operational costs and preparing for future demands.
Residential tap fees also will increase, from $6,700 to $6,800.
Rates have been on the rise at Ute since a study in 2011 showed the need to prepare for growth on the system with capital projects.
“As the Grand Valley continues to grow, even though there are four domestic water providers here, Ute Water is going to see that growth,” said Joe Burtard, external affairs manager with the Ute Water Conservancy District.
“The $20 (minimum charge) is where we should have been over the past five years,” Burtard said. “So our board has been slowly working toward that $20 minimum, mostly to align us with the cost of operating.”
Burtard said there are no rate changes planned for customers on Ute’s tiered system, unlike last year when those rates increased as well.
He also noted that Ute Water last year purchased a large share of Ruedi Reservoir near Aspen, paying cash out of reserves for the additional water to meet future demand.
“That will ultimately save out customers money in the long run,” Burtard said, instead of utilizing long-term bonding for financing and then paying interest on those funds.
Ute Water serves more than 80,000 customers in the Grand Valley. The 2011 raw water study that guides the utility today projects that by 2045, Ute Water will serve a population of 197,000 consumers.
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