2016 Rates Residential Customer FAQs

Denver Water has adopted a new rate structure, which determines how our customers are charged for water. Our priorities for 2016 and the changes to the rate structure will allow us to continue improving our water system while ensuring essential water use remains affordable for our customers.

The rate changes went into effect on April 1, 2016.

  • Why are you making this change to the rate structure?

    Denver Water’s old rate structure had been in place for 20 years and has been updated to reflect current water-use habits and provide a buffer for more frequent extreme weather fluctuations. These weather fluctuations result in inconsistent revenue, making it harder to plan for and complete repairs and upgrades to our system. The new structure begins to shift our revenue from such a heavy reliance on usage to a more stable fixed fee over the next few years, which means that future rate increases will be less subject to bigger jumps because of unpredictable weather.

  • How does the new rate structure work?

    The first change is the fixed monthly charge, which will increase to $8.79 each month. The fixed monthly charge varies by meter size, but the majority of single-family residential customers have a 3/4-inch meter. The higher fixed charge will be balanced out by the new tiered structure, where the cost per 1,000 gallons will actually be less than in the old structure.

    Residential customers will continue to be charged on a tiered structure — the more you use, the more you pay. Now, however, the rate structure is based on three tiers instead of four. These charges apply to residential customers inside the city of Denver. Suburban, commercial and recycled customers will see different charges.

    Tier 1

    The first and least expensive tier is based on indoor use. Because water used indoors for cooking, bathing, drinking and flushing toilets is essential for human life, it has been assigned the lowest rate. This rate will be calculated by averaging your monthly water consumption on bills dated January, February and March each year (beginning in 2016), which is a way of determining indoor water use.

    Each month, the amount of water you use up to your average winter consumption will be charged at the lowest rate, $2.60 per 1,000 gallons*. The minimum possible average winter consumption is 5,000 gallons, and the maximum is 15,000 gallons. The minimum average winter consumption of 5,000 gallons was determined because most Denver Water residential customers use 5,000 gallons or less per month indoors, thanks to efficient water use habits and fixtures. You will continue to be charged for what you use, up to 5,000 gallons at the lowest rate.

    Tier 2

    We also understand the value of having healthy landscapes, gardens and places for kids and pets to play. So customers will be allotted 15,000 gallons in addition to their average winter consumption — what it takes to water an average-sized yard efficiently — for outdoor use, which falls into a second, higher-priced tier at $4.68 per 1,000 gallons*.

    Tier 3

    Any use above that will fall into the third, highest-priced tier at $6.24 per 1,000 gallons*.

    *These charges apply to residential customers inside the city of Denver. Suburban customers will see different charges.

  • How does the new rate structure compare to the old structure?

    See the charts below for a comparison of 2015 and 2016 rates under the new structure.

    Comparison: Single Family Residential — Inside City
    2015 Rates   2016 Rates
    Fixed Monthly Charge $6.74 Block/Tier Fixed Monthly Charge $8.79†
    Monthly consumption (gallons) Rate per 1,000 gallons   Rate per 1,000 gallons Monthly consumption (gallons)
    0 – 11,000 $2.75 1 $2.60 0 to average winter consumption*
    12,000 – 30,000 $5.50 2 $4.68 Average winter consumption plus 15,000
    31,000 – 40,000 $8.25 3 $6.24 Greater than average winter consumption plus 15,000
    Over 40,000 $11.00 4

    Comparison: Single Family Residential — Read & Bill
    2015 Rates   2016 Rates
    Fixed Monthly Charge $6.74 Block/Tier Fixed Monthly Charge $8.79†
    Monthly consumption (gallons) Rate per 1,000 gallons   Rate per 1,000 gallons Monthly consumption (gallons)
    0 – 11,000 $2.82 1 $2.80 0 to average winter consumption*
    12,000 – 30,000 $5.64 2 $5.04 Average winter consumption plus 15,000
    31,000 – 40,000 $8.46 3 $6.72 Greater than average winter consumption plus 15,000
    Over 40,000 $11.28 4

    Comparison: Single Family Residential — Total Service
    2015 Rates   2016 Rates
    Fixed Monthly Charge $6.74 Block/Tier Fixed Monthly Charge $8.79†
    Monthly consumption (gallons) Rate per 1,000 gallons   Rate per 1,000 gallons Monthly consumption (gallons)
    0 – 11,000 $3.04 1 $3.28 0 to average winter consumption*
    12,000 – 30,000 $6.08 2 $5.90 Average winter consumption plus 15,000
    31,000 – 40,000 $9.12 3 $7.87 Greater than average winter consumption plus 15,000
    Over 40,000 $12.16 4

    *The average winter consumption in the new structure will be calculated by averaging your monthly water consumption on bills dated January through March, which is a way of determining essential indoor water use. The minimum possible average winter consumption is 5,000 gallons; this does not mean you will be charged for 5,000 gallons of water if you use less than that amount. The minimum average winter consumption of 5,000 gallons was determined because most Denver Water residential customers use 5,000 gallons or less per month indoors, thanks to efficient water use habits and fixtures.

    †Fixed monthly charge for a 3/4-inch meter.

  • Why did the fixed monthly charge increase?

    The fixed monthly charge addresses the costs to collect, store, treat and deliver water, which are expenses that have to be paid regardless of the amount of water customers use every year. The fixed monthly charge is based on the size of the meter at a property. The increase in this monthly charge is crucial to achieving a more stable revenue so that future rate increases can be kept smaller and be less subject to bigger jumps because of unpredictable weather.

  • What is the average winter consumption, and how is it determined?

    Because water used indoors is for cooking, bathing, drinking and flushing toilets, we consider it to be essential for human life and assign it the lowest rate. The average winter consumption is determined by averaging the customer’s monthly water consumption on bills dated January, February and March, which is a way of determining indoor water use. Your average will be recalculated every winter. Each month, all year long, the amount of water you use up to your average winter consumption will be charged at the lowest rate per 1,000 gallons.

    If your average winter consumption is 5,000 gallons, you’ll pay $2.60 per 1,000 gallons up to 5,000 gallons each month*. For residential customers, the minimum possible average winter consumption is 5,000 gallons and the maximum is 15,000. The minimum does not mean you will be charged for 5,000 gallons if you use less than that amount. Each household will have a different average winter consumption.

    * These charges apply to residential customers inside the city of Denver. Suburban customers will see different charges.

  • Is there a minimum or maximum average winter consumption?

    The minimum allowance for Tier 1 is 5,000 gallons; this does not mean you will be charged for 5,000 gallons of water if you use less than that amount. The amount of water you use up to 5,000 gallons will be charged at the lowest rate per 1,000 gallons. The minimum average winter consumption of 5,000 gallons was determined because most Denver Water residential customers use 5,000 gallons or less per month indoors, thanks to efficient water use habits and fixtures.

    The maximum average winter consumption allowance for Tier 3 is 15,000 gallons.

  • Why did you select bills dated in January, February and March as the bills that determine the average winter consumption?

    During the winter months, customers do not typically use water on outdoor landscapes. The water used during the winter months is for cooking, bathing, drinking and flushing toilets, and we consider this to be essential for human life and assign this the lowest rate.

  • I live in a different state during the winter months and I don't use water during January, February or March. How will my annual winter consumption be determined?

    For this reason, Denver Water has set a minimum average winter consumption of 5,000 gallons. So even if you are not in your home during the winter, you will still receive an average winter consumption of 5,000 gallons, but will only be charged for the water you use. Throughout the rest of the year, when you are using water, the amount of water you use up to 5,000 gallons will be charged at the lowest rate per 1,000 gallons. The minimum average winter consumption of 5,000 gallons was determined because most Denver Water residential customers use 5,000 gallons or less per month indoors, thanks to efficient water use habits and fixtures.

  • Will my bill be higher or lower with this new rate structure?

    Because the new rate structure is so individualized, it depends entirely on how much you use, and how you use it (indoors, outdoors, etc.). Still, we want to help you conserve. Learn how to keep your landscape healthy with less water, find wasteful leaks and earn a rebate.

  • Will people who use more water in the winter benefit from this rate structure?

    No — purposely using more water in the winter to drive up your average winter consumption does not benefit you; rather, it costs you.

    The focus remains on efficient water use — we don’t have a choice in our dry climate — by keeping a tiered structure that charges more for inefficient use. The more you use, the more you pay. Higher use is not always the result of inefficiency; often it is the result of having more household members. It’s important, however, to ensure that essential indoor water use — bathing, cooking, drinking, flushing toilets — is kept affordable for everyone.

  • Does Denver Water's 3.8 percent revenue increase mean my bill is going up 3.8 percent?

    No, the 3.8 percent revenue increase refers only to the additional revenue Denver Water needs to fund projects in 2016. Changes to individual bills are more affected by the new rate structure than they are by the 2016 revenue increase.

    Denver Water’s operational and capital projects are funded by water rates, bond sales, cash reserves, hydropower sales and fees for new service (system development charges).

    The revenue increase will fund a number of multi-year projects, such as replacing aging pipes and failing underground storage tanks, upgrading water treatment facilities and rehabilitating Antero Dam in Park County.

  • Rates seem to increase, even though we keep conserving. Why?

    Customers have done an amazing job of conserving, cutting their use by 22 percent in the past decade. Doing so has helped extend our supplies because it reduces the need for more expensive supply alternatives. Also, rates would be higher without such an aggressive conservation movement because we would’ve built more treatment and distribution facilities to keep up with population growth.

    Water conservation — along with securing new supplies and reusing water — will continue to be essential to ensure that we have an adequate water supply for everyone in the years to come. And using water efficiently is the right thing to do in our dry climate. Conservation has been a cost-effective way to extend our supplies, but the current rate structure has been in place for 20 years and needs to be updated to reflect current water use habits and to provide a buffer for more frequent extreme weather fluctuations.

    The costs to collect, store, treat and deliver water are expenses that have to be paid regardless of the amount of water customers use every year. No matter how much water customers use, we still need to maintain and operate more than 3,000 miles of pipe, 19 reservoirs, 22 pump stations, 30 underground storage tanks, four treatment plants and much more.

  • How can I lower my bill?

    The first step is understanding how much you use and where. Take a look at your consumption history. If you see spikes in your use inside or outside, you could have a leaky toilet or a broken line in your sprinkler system.

    Even if you don’t see a spike in water use, there’s always room to use water more efficiently. Follow Denver Water’s summer watering rules, and try the cycle-soak method of watering your lawn. 

    Small leaks can turn into big drains on the wallet. Earn rebates for new, high-efficiency toilets, sprinkler nozzles and controllers. And if you’re ready for a big change, consider remodeling your landscape with more Colorado-friendly plants.

    Sign up for monthly conservation tips and have a little fun. After all, conservation doesn’t have to be dry all the time.

  • What if I have questions about my bill?

    Call Customer Care at 303-893-2444. Read more about the rate structure change by reading, “Your water bill: Different path, same goals.”