Dec. 14, 2016 - At its meeting today, the Denver Board of Water Commissioners adopted rate changes to fund essential repairs and upgrades to Denver Water’s system, beginning April 1, 2017. Monthly bills for a majority of Denver residents will increase by about $2.50 or less if they use water the same as they did in 2016.
There are 162 major projects identified in Denver Water’s capital plan, ranging from replacing aging pipes and failing underground storage tanks to upgrading water treatment facilities, warehouses and mechanical shops. These projects, in addition to Denver Water’s expenses associated with day-to-day operations and unplanned work, like water main breaks, are funded by water rates, bond sales, cash reserves, hydropower sales and fees for new service (called System Development Charges).
“Denver Water is a regional water supplier, serving more than one-quarter of the state’s population,” said Penfield Tate, president of the Denver Board of Water Commissioners. “We are always going to need to retrofit, repair and replace parts of our system, much of which is more than 100 years old, to deliver a reliable water supply to our customers. We are committed to balancing the perspectives of our ratepayers, some of whom believe our rates are too low, and some who believe we need to help keep rates low.”
In 2016, the board adopted a new rate structure that shifts rate revenue from a heavy reliance on water use toward a more stable fixed fee. To continue that shift, the fixed monthly charge — which is tied to meter size — in 2017 is increasing by about $3 for a majority of residential customers. Most Denver Water customers have a 3/4-inch meter and will be charged $11.86 each month. To help offset the fixed monthly charge, the charge per 1,000 gallons for many customers will see a small decrease in 2017.
To keep water affordable, particularly for essential indoor water use, and to continue sending a conservation message, Denver Water’s rate structure includes a three-tiered charge for water use (called the volume rate). This structure ensures water used for drinking, cooking and sanitation is charged at the lowest rate, and water used for outdoor watering is charged at a higher price.
Individual water bills will depend on how much water a customer uses and whether the customer lives in Denver or is served by one of 66 suburban distributors under contract with Denver Water.
“Many distributors along with Denver Water are faced with the need to upgrade and replace critical infrastructure and meet increasingly stringent water quality regulations,” said Patrick Fitzgerald, chairman for the Denver Water Distributors Rates and Fees Technical Advisory Committee. “Distributors recognize and support the need to provide adequate revenue in a reliable and consistent manner, and we support the move to increase the amount of funding generated from the fixed service fee, as well as the modest increase in 2017 water rates.”
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 20 dams, 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.
Get more details and watch a video about the upcoming capital projects: Your water bill is going up (slightly). Here’s why.
Customers will see more information about 2017 rates in their bills and on Denver Water’s website over the next few months.