Unusually high water bills have started to roll in for several folks in Colorado Springs for the month of September.
Colorado Springs Utilities says there are no leaks and no issues with their meters, it simply comes down to a matter of consumption and usage per household.
But many homeowners in the Stetson Hills neighborhood say that’s just not the case and they haven’t made any changes all summer.
“We got our bill and it was $460,” Stephanie Gordon, a Colorado Springs rate payer said…
So News 5 took these concerns straight to Colorado Springs Utilities.
“We take them seriously, we look into them, we investigate them, we checked out all of our billing and metering functionalities and our systems are working correctly so there is no reason to believe that we have billing errors on our side,” Eric Isaacson, a spokesperson for Colorado Springs Utilities said.
They say it’s likely an issue of consumption which could be to blame on the weather.
“When you see that hot, dry, spell come in for a little while, and you increase, if you do turn on your sprinkler system again, yeah it’s going to be a bit of a jump, you’re going to see that because it’s reflected in what you’re using,” Isaacson said.
Earlier this week, our community lost a great visionary and leader. While many may not think twice about getting a glass of water from the tap, taking a shower or watering their lawns, Gary Bostrom was always planning ahead to ensure our community had the water needed to grow and thrive. It’s thanks to people like Gary that our customers don’t have to think about their water.
Gary retired from Colorado Springs Utilities as the Chief Water Services Officer in 2015 after 36 years of service on most all facets of the water system, from Homestake to Southern Delivery. His career spanned a variety of leadership roles from water supply acquisition, water and wastewater infrastructure planning and engineering, and developing regional partnerships.
Earlier this year, Gary received the Bob Appel Friend of the Arkansas Award at the Arkansas River Water Basin Forum. The award is given annually to honor an individual who has served and worked to improve the condition of the Arkansas River in southeastern Colorado. It was a well-deserved recognition.
A few of Gary’s career highlights include:
The design, development and negotiations for the completion of the Southern Delivery System
The development of the Arkansas River Exchange Program
The completion and implementation the 1996 Water Resource Plan
The establishment of the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District
The development of the Fountain Creek Corridor Master Plan
The development of Colorado Springs’ Arkansas River Exchange Program
Gary’s career was more than getting water to our community. He also believed in using water wisely. Under his direction, our 2008 Water Conservation Master Plan and 2015 Water Use Efficiency Plan incorporated measures that accumulate a permanent, water use reduction in our community of more than 10,000 acre feet by 2030. That’s a savings of more than 3 billion gallons of water!
Throughout his career, Gary was actively involved in a number of water organizations.
Director of the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District
Past President of the Fountain Valley Authority
Past director of the Aurora-Colorado Springs Joint Water Authority
Member of the Homestake Steering Committee
Past President of the Twin Lakes Reservoir and Canal Company, the Lake Meredith Reservoir Company and the Lake Henry Reservoir Company
He was a true water champion for our community and region. Thanks in part to Gary’s vision and direction, Colorado Springs has a secure water supply and is a leader in water reuse in the state.
He was brilliant as an engineer and perhaps even better at building relationships and collaborating with others – even staying involved in regional water organizations after retirement.
A key figure in development of the $825 million Southern Delivery System, died unexpectedly on Monday while bicycling near his home in Colorado Springs. Cause of death has not been determined.
Gary Bostrom, 60, was the retired water services chief for Colorado Springs Utilities and shepherded SDS from its inception in the 1996 Colorado Springs Water Plan toward its eventual completion in 2016. Along the way, he fostered cooperation with Security, Fountain and Pueblo West as partners in SDS, while working to assure a clean drinking water supply for the future of Colorado Springs. He retired in 2015, but remained active in water issues. Bostrom joined the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District board of directors in 2009 and was vice president of the board.
“This is a great loss for the water community,” said Bill Long, president of the Southeastern board. “Gary’s knowledge about water, and his hard work to help achieve common goals will be sorely missed.”Former Chieftain editor and reporter Chris Woodka, who went to work for the Southeastern district last year, agreed.
“I met Gary about 27 years ago, and we were what I would call ‘friendly adversaries’ for many of those years,” Woodka said. “Over the years, our relationship evolved into a true friendship. He was always positive and truthful even when I’d ask him tough questions while I was a reporter. As a board member, he was top-notch, and I enjoyed getting to know him better. He was a wonderful individual to spend time with.”
Officials in Colorado Springs, including Mayor John Suthers, Utilities CEO Jerry Forte and former City Council members expressed their shock and sadness at Bostrom’s death.
Bostrom was active in the community as well and was a member of the Colorado Springs Parks and Recreation Advisory board. He is survived by his wife, Sara, four children and three grandchildren. Services will be at 2 p.m. Sunday at Village Seven Presbyterian Church, 4040 Nonchalant Circle South, Colorado Springs.
Gary Bostrom, one of the driving forces behind Colorado Springs’ $825 million Southern Delivery System, died Monday while cycling on a trail along Monument Creek.
Bostrom, 60, had worked for Colorado Springs Utilities for nearly two-thirds of his life before retiring in 2015.
“He was just a prince of a man,” said John Fredell, former SDS program director who worked with Bostrom for many years. “All of us wish we were more like Gary Bostrom.”
Bostrom’s body was found shortly before 7 p.m. along a section of the trail near North Nevada Avenue and Austin Bluffs Parkway, said police Sgt. James Sokolik. The cause of death has not been determined, but police do not suspect foul play.
“We all wanted and expected another 30 years with Gary,” said former city Councilwoman Margaret Radford.
She said she got to know him soon after she was elected in 2001, and they stayed in touch after she left the council in 2009.
“Gary was always one who could find the good in anyone … and bring out more good, if that makes any sense,” she said.
Bostrom worked at Utilities for 36 years before retiring two years ago, Mayor John Suthers said in a post about Bostrom on his Facebook page.
“Gary spent his career making sure that our community had good, clean water and plenty of it,” Fredell said. “You can’t find many people who have done that for their community, and spent their careers doing it.”
On April 26, the Utilities engineer was given the “Bob Appel – Friend of Arkansas” award at the Arkansas River Water Basin Forum.
The SDS, a massive series of pipelines that funnels up to 50 million gallons a day of Arkansas River water to Colorado Springs, Fountain, Security and Pueblo West, began serving customers in 2016.
Decades of planning went into the project, which is made up of 50 miles of 66- and 90-inch-diameter pipelines, including a 1-mile tunnel under Interstate 25, Fountain Creek and railroad tracks.
Bostrom helped ensure the project was finished on time and under budget, Fredell said.
“(Bostrom) was instrumental in getting the permit in place and moving the Southern Delivery System forward,” said Larry Small, executive director of the Fountain Creek Watershed, Flood Control and Greenway District.
“As far as water resources, there just wasn’t anybody better,” said Small, a former city councilman and vice mayor. “I don’t know of one person who knew Gary who would say one bad thing about him.”
Radford said she’s still grateful for what Bostrom taught her about “how valuable our utilities system – and in particular, our water system – is.” She said it altered her perspective and influenced her work as a councilwoman.
A Colorado Springs native, Bostrom was named chief water officer in 2011 after having served as general manager for planning, engineering and resource managment in water services. He also worked in water supply acquisition, water and wastewater infrastructure planning and engineering, and developing regional partnerships. He was instrumental in the development of the Arkansas River Exchange Program, the 1996 Water Resource Plan and the Southern Delivery System permitting process.
Bostrom served as a director on the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, was past president of the Fountain Valley Authority, a director for the Aurora-Colorado Springs Joint Water Authority, and a director for the Homestake Steering Committee. Additionally, he is past president of the Twin Lakes Reservoir and Canal Company, the Lake Meredith Reservoir Company and the Lake Henry Reservoir Company.
The Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which owns and operates the Pueblo Dam, signed an agreement last week allowing for the soon-to-be-built plant to connect to the dam, Chris Woodka, the district’s issues management program coordinator, said in a release.
The agreement was signed after the Colorado Springs City Council unanimously approved the creation of a military sales tariff on Tuesday. The tariff will cover costs for Colorado Springs Utilities to act as an intermediary, buying power from the district and selling it to Fort Carson.
With all the necessary agreements in place, the district hired Mountain States Hydro, LLC, to build the $19 million plant, Woodka said. Construction will begin in September and the plant should be operational by the spring.
Half of the electricity from the plant, estimated to be up to 7.5 megawatts, will be sold to Fort Carson and the other half will be sold to Fountain Utilities.
The plant is expected to generate about $1.4 million in revenue each year, Woodka said.
“This is a monumental moment in the history of the district,” said Jim Broderick, the district’s executive director. “We have been working to put all of the pieces in place since 2011. Now that this project is coming to fruition, it represents not only a sustainable income stream for our stakeholders, but develops a clean source of power for the future.”
Added Chris Woodka, the district’s issues management program coordinator, “The Lease of Power Privilege clears the way for the hydropower plant to connect to Pueblo Dam, a federally owned structure. Mike Ryan, director of the Great Plains Region for Reclamation, signed the lease Friday.”
In order to satisfy all federal requirements related to the project, members of the district have been working for the past 18 months to put a series of other agreements in place.
“The district has contracted with Mountain States Hydro, LLC, to build the plant,” Woodka said, “with construction to begin in September. It is scheduled to be completed during the fall and winter months when releases from Pueblo Dam generally decrease.”
It’s anticipated that the plant will be online by spring 2018.
The plant will cost about $19 million to build. Last year, the district secured a $17.2 million loan from the Colorado Water Conservation Board, with the district’s business enterprise providing matching funds.
Over time, those funds will be paid off by revenues from the sale of power.
For a decade, power from the plant will be purchased by the city of Fountain and by Colorado Springs Utilities for use at Fort Carson.
“After that, Fountain intends to purchase all of the power for at least 20 more years,” Woodka said.
The plant will generate up to 7.5 megawatts of power by using three turbines capable of producing power from 35 to 800 cubic feet per second of flow in the Arkansas River. Water will pass through a connection that was built into the service line for the Southern Delivery System, then into the Arkansas River.
Projections by district staff show that an average of 28 million kilowatt hours will be produced annually, with about $1.4 million in average revenue per year.
This money will be used to pay off the CWCB loan and to satisfy contractual agreements with the Bureau of Reclamation, as well as a carriage agreement with Black Hills Energy. All remaining funds will go to enterprise activities, including the Arkansas Valley Conduit.
A hydroelectric plant is planned for construction downstream from the Pueblo Dam to generate renewable energy for Fort Carson. Developers are just waiting for the signal to start building.
The plant would significantly increase the amount of renewable energy Fort Carson consumes, fitting with the post’s “Net Zero” goals of becoming more environmentally friendly.
The Colorado Springs Utilities board will consider adding a military sales tariff during its meeting Wednesday. The tariff would cover costs for Utilities to act as an intermediary, selling the power to Fort Carson after buying it from the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, which would build and operate the plant, said Utilities spokeswoman Amy Trinidad.
Adding the tariff is the “last step” before the district can begin construction, said spokesman Chris Woodka.
“We’ve been ready to pull the trigger on this since January,” he said.
Currently, 8 percent of Fort Carson’s electricity is generated on-site through renewable sources such as solar panels, post spokeswoman Dani Johnson said. She could not say whether the post buys any renewable energy from off-site sources.
But Trinidad said Fort Carson does buy some renewable energy from Utilities. She could not say how much, citing customer privacy. The proposed hydroelectric deal would make up 7 percent of the post’s annual electricity purchase from Utilities, she said.
If the tariff is added, the proposal then will go before the City Council, consisting of the same members as the Utilities board, next month. If the council approves the move, construction on the plant can begin, Woodka said.
The plant would cost about $19 million, most of which comes from a loan the district took out, he said. In the years to come, energy sales are expected to cover the costs and eventually generate funds.
The plant’s construction will not have a financial impact on Utilities ratepayers, Trinidad said.
The plant is expected to generate up to 7.5 megawatts of electricity, Woodka said. Fort Carson will buy half of that, and Fountain Utilities will buy the other half.
The plant could be operational by May 2018, a peak time for generating hydroelectricity because of the high volume of water flowing from the Pueblo Dam, Woodka said.
Utilities then would buy the electricity, which will be transmitted onto its grid, and then sell it to Fort Carson without marking up the price, Trinidad said.
In the past, Fort Carson bought renewable wind energy through Utilities under short-term contracts, which have since expired, said Steve Carr, Utilities’ key account manager for Fort Carson. The pending hydroelectricity contract would last until the end of 2027.
The 129-year-old valve was still working when utility workers used it for last month’s water main replacement project on Cascade Avenue in downtown Colorado Springs, the company said…
According to officials, the valve removal signifies an effort to renew aging water mains across the city to improve customer service and help the city’s 2C paving project – which voters approved in 2015 to rehabilitate city streets through a five-year sales tax increase…
The piece will be put on display at the Colorado Springs Utilities Leon Young Service Center alongside other historical items that represent the city’s early days, including valve covers, manhole rings, electrical wiring and Christmas lights. No one else takes the effort to preserve ancient utility history said Phil Tunnah, general manager of Utilities’ Water Services Division Asset Management, Engineering and Project/Program Delivery.
The city’s first valve was also placed in 1888 behind the Antlers hotel, Utilities officials said. It remains in operation.