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New Water Rates Start April 1
In December 2016, the Denver Board of Water Commissioners adopted rate changes to fund essential repairs and upgrades to Denver Water’s system, effective April 1, 2017.
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).
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.
How much your bill will increase depends on the type of customer you are and how you use water. Your bill is composed of a fixed monthly charge and charges for how much water you use.
Every customer will see an increase to their monthly fixed charge. If you’re like most residential customers who have a 3/4-inch meter, that charge will increase from $8.79 to $11.86 per month.
To help offset the fixed monthly charge, the charge per 1,000 gallons for many customers will see a small decrease in 2017.
Adding up those two elements, if you live in Denver and use 115,000 gallons of water a year in the same way you did in 2016, you can expect to see an annual increase of about $29, which averages out to a monthly increase of about $2.40 a month. (Summer bills are typically higher because of outdoor water use.)
If you live in the suburbs and get your water from one of our 66 distributors, your rate will be higher than Denver residents. That’s because the Denver City Charter requires that suburban customers pay the full cost of service, plus an additional amount.
Potential 2017 annual bill impacts
Type of customer, based on 115,000 gallons of annual usage 2016 average 2017 average $ Change
79% of customers use 115,000 gallons or less per year
$543 $572 $29/year
Read and Bill
58% of customers use 115,000 gallons or less per year
$555 $573 $18/year
60% of customers use 115,000 gallons or less per year
$637 $678 $41/year
Why are we raising rates?
We have a large, intricate system with a lot of aging infrastructure. With a five-year, $1.3 billion capital plan, we’re staying on top of the upgrades and new projects needed to keep our system running.
To keep up with this necessary work, we are increasing the monthly fixed charge on your bill to help us even out our revenues over the year so we can repair and upgrade our system. This means less reliance on revenues from how much water customers use, which has become increasingly difficult to predict in recent years given the more frequent and extreme weather fluctuations.
Are customers being penalized for conservation?
We always encourage conservation and the efficient use of water. In fact, rates would be higher without our customers’ conservation efforts; we’d have to build more treatment and distribution facilities to keep up with the demand for water.
Your Water Rates at Work
In 2017, Denver Water will continue work on projects that are part of the five-year, $1.3 billion capital improvement plan. Building new facilities while maintaining aging infrastructure is a constant challenge. Some specific projects include:
Hillcrest Storage Tank Replacement project
The $100 million project replaces two aging and outdated tanks and pump station that were built on the same site in the 1960s. The new project will include three 15-million-gallon treated water storage reservoirs and a pump station to distribute water throughout our system.
The five-year capital plan provides $76 million to repair and replace water mains. Some of the pipes in the system date back to the 1890s, and Denver Water has more than 3,000 miles of pipe in the ground.
New Water Treatment Plant
Denver Water also needs to replace the Moffat Water Treatment Plant in Lakewood, which has been operating since 1937. The land around Ralston Reservoir in Arvada will be the site of the new $400 million water treatment plant.
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If you’d like to talk over your bill with someone, contact Denver Water’s Customer Care team at 303-893-2444, and a representative will help you calculate your individual bill impacts, based on your personal water-use information.
Did You Know?
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.
Our collection system covers more than 4,000 square miles and we operate facilities in 12 counties in Colorado.