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.