From The Greeley Tribune (Burt Knight):
When Greeley’s new water rates take effect in early 2017, more than 80 percent of the city’s single-family residential accounts will likely see a drop in their monthly bills — thanks to a water budget rate structure that rewards efficient usage.
For three years now, Greeley Water and Sewer has included an informational water budget on customers’ statements, showing them how much they actually needed for their indoor and outdoor use. Based on family size, yard area, and real-time Greeley weather, each water budget is personalized; each is more than enough to provide for both indoor and outdoor needs.
While you’ll still be charged only for the water you use, you’ll pay the lowest rate when you stay within your water budget. It’s a completely personalized approach that, combined with a rate structure that starts lower than the current uniform rate, makes it the most equitable way to promote and reward water efficiency.
But the question on most customers’ minds is probably … Why?
It all comes down to planning, because as our population increases, so will our need for water. Greeley alone has grown threefold in the last 50 years, and all estimates point to that trend continuing — not only within our city limits, but also throughout northern Colorado. In fact, the Weld County and Fort Collins-Loveland metropolitan statistical areas ranked sixth and 10th in the nation for population growth in 2014 and 2015.
Because competition for water supplies increases along with this rapid growth — not to mention the fact that actually acquiring that water is getting more and more expensive — the ability to provide for the future has to begin with conservation.
That’s in part why Greeley Water and Sewer, under the leadership of the Greeley Water Board, developed a long-term and comprehensive Four Point Plan.
Designed to ensure that our community has a safe and reliable water supply for years to come, the plan focuses on improving conservation through audits, rebates, and education; strengthening infrastructure through regular maintenance, upgrades, and the addition of new capacity; continuing acquisition through buying water ahead of demand; and expanding storage to both protect against drought and to hold spring runoff for use in the summer.
The water budget program is an integral part of the Four Point Plan, just as it is a continuation of Greeley’s legacy of forward-thinking water stewardship.
But even if the region weren’t facing rapid population growth, the water budget program would still be the right thing to do. Securing safe and sufficient water supplies for future generations of Greeley residents, particularly in the face of uncertainties like drought and climate change, remains a major challenge. And ensuring that we’re as efficient as possible — while still having access to the water we need — is an important part of mitigating that challenge.
We all know that, as a limited natural resource, water should be used wisely. Greeley’s water budget program helps all of us do just that. By focusing on conservation and efficiency; by reducing unnecessary strain on the city’s water infrastructure, some components of which have been in use for 75 years or more; and by rewarding efficiency with the lowest rates, it’s good not only for our community and its future water supply, but also for you and your family.
To learn more about Greeley’s water budget program, visit http://www.EfficiencyRewarded.com.
— Burt Knight is the Director of the City of Greeley Water and Sewer Department.