From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Amy Hamilton):
Several water-related upgrades and improvements to the failing Purdy Mesa Reservoir dam will increase water bills for Grand Junction residents by 52 percent over the next seven years.
Grand Junction city councilors have informally agreed to a plan to borrow $2.6 million and charge water users the remainder to raise $30 million to fund capital improvements over the next 10 years.
As a result, water bills in 2016 may increase 9.5 percent. That would mean an additional $1.63 more a month for the base rate of 4,000 gallons a month.
Under a plan that councilors are still finalizing, bills will increase by 9.5 percent each year for three consecutive years. The city will then raise water rates 8.5 percent in 2019, 8 percent in 2020 and 7.5 percent in 2021.
The money is needed to make a host of water improvements, city water officials have told councilors at recent meetings. The dam at Purdy Mesa Reservoir, one of Grand Junction’s reservoirs used for drought reserves on the south side of Grand Mesa, failed after it sustained a major crack and currently is drained of water.
An intake diversion at Kannah Creek that was built in the early 1900s and replaced in the 1940s also needs to be replaced, said Bret Guillory, the city’s utility engineer.
In addition, the city needs to replace aging water filters to treat raw water. The funds would cover all the costs to replace all of the city’s underground cast-iron water lines in the next 20 years. The money also would be used for smaller projects, like replacing residential water meters with more accurate meters. Older meters read water usage on the low end, Guillory said.
“My priority is not increasing the homeowners’ rates too much, but increasing it slowly. We need to improve the dam and the failing water lines,” Councilor Bennett Boeschenstein said at a recent meeting.
Councilor Marty Chazen said he wanted city staff to go after grants to improve Purdy Mesa, and the city’s water officials said they would look into those opportunities.
“The decision whether to do this or not is already made. It’s how we pay for it,” Chazen said.