Frequently Asked Billing Questions
Why are rates and fees so high?
- Our rates and fees here at CPNMD, and for most water providers across the front range, consist of two components: monthly base fees and consumption charges. Base fees cover the cost of providing water service. Consumption charges are calculated from how much water you use. The base fee is not a minimum use charge, but a flat rate charged to every rate payer. It includes all the shared costs for bringing water to a community – pipes, pump stations, water storage, water treatment repairs and several other items related to water delivery.
- If a customer were to use zero water during a given month, they would still have to pay the base fee to ensure the service is available. If you use water, then you pay an additional amount for the water consumed. At CPNMD we categorize water usage into Tiers.
- Consumption up to 5,000 gallons in a non-irrigation month (November through March) is defined by CPNMD as Tier 1, which equates to the lowest charge per 1,000 gallons. For months during the irrigation season (April through October), Tier 1 is determined by a combination of irrigation factors, the most significant of which is a customer’s lot size. As customers exceed their Tier 1 usage “budget,” their charges progress into Tiers 2, 3, and 4 with corresponding higher charges per 1,000 gallons of usage. Since you are only charged for the water you use, using less water within your “budget” does save you money and staying out of Tier 2 and above saves you even more. It’s a good system that automatically encourages sensible use of the resource. There’s additional information on our website at CPNMD.org/water.
- Every residence in CPNMD has a water meter inside of their house. Our staff is happy to assist with proper meter reading. You can call them to schedule an appointment at any time: 303-688-8550.
Why are water bills in cities like Aurora and Denver so much lower than Castle Pines?
There are many factors that go into water rates and fees, and those factors vary by water provider.
For CPMND, these factors include:
- Water Sources – Most of our water comes from underground wells in the Denver Basin Aquifers. These aquifers do not replenish themselves, so we started planning for renewable water infrastructure, which has associated costs.
- Infrastructure – Given our size, it’s more economical for us to partner with existing providers for treatment and storage. Denver Water, for example, has more control over its costs given its size and owned assets, some of which date back more than 90 years.
- Customer Base – CPNMD is much smaller (3,200 business and residential taps) and newer than providers serving Denver or Aurora (over 325,000 residential taps), so we don’t benefit from the same economies of scale or “early entry” in the market for water rights.
- Subsidies – Some providers assess higher taxes to offset the cost of water. So, while bills in some areas may look lower, those people could be paying higher taxes.
We set rates and fees based on cost of service. Rates cover variable costs (water use) and fees cover fixed costs (infrastructure to get the water to your tap). We use a third-party consultant that has developed a model that each year is updated with the proposed budget. The model then tells us what the rates and fees need to be to cover our costs.
Each year, as part of this process, the Board of Directors works with staff to assure that the proposed budget is in line with community needs and expectations, via a series of public meetings and communications.
We’ve pulled together a rate comparison based on information published on area water provider websites. The below assumes 5,000 gallons/month of indoor usage and 10,000 gallons/month of outdoor usage. The monthly charge per provider would look like this:
Arapahoe County: $114.94
Castle Rock: $103.34
Most of these providers saw increases in price since 2014 similar or greater than CPNMD. This comparison does not take into consideration mill levies that are collected to offset costs. Additionally, Castle Rock, Parker and Centennial are all in the WISE project, are working on renewable water plans and have larger customer bases.
Centennial Water & Sanitation District (serving Highlands Ranch) also created a rate comparison chart based on 2016 figures. This was published in a January 2017 Fact Sheet.
It’s important to note that the comparisons do not account for renewable water fees.
Do other water providers assess renewable water fees?
- Yes, most providers in Douglas County assess fees for renewable water. CPNMD has the lowest renewable water fee ($15.00) among all area providers. Castle Rock charges $26.00, Centennial $27.00 and Parker $30.00.
Why has my water bill has gone up dramatically since 2014?
- In 2015, the Board of Directors increased water rates and fees by about 8%. In 2016, the increase was about half that, 4.5%. These decisions relate to the factors listed above, which affect the cost of service. Some of the pipelines in Castle Pines are 20+ years old, and we knew we’d have some upcoming infrastructure repairs and replacements.
How is new development factored into water fees and rates?
- New development contributes in many ways, including paying tap or connection fees to CPNMD to help offset the cost of infrastructure which is needed to provide service to the development. New developments in the community, such as Lagae Ranch, also pay an additional fee on top of the tap fee which is earmarked for renewable water. Developers are also responsible for constructing and paying for the infrastructure within the individual developments.
- Additionally, each home or business in Lagae Ranch will pay property taxes, a portion of which comes directly to CPNMD.