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2019 Rates 

On March 20, 2019, the Roxborough Water and Sanitation District (RWSD or District) Board of Directors held their annual public hearing on rates.  Some residents believe the District’s rates are too high, and others don’t believe our rate structure does enough to encourage water conservation.

Here are some key points regarding RWSD’s rates:

  1. Your monthly bill includes water, sewer, and system replacement charges, not just water.
  2. The majority of the per-thousand-gallon charge is the cost of raw water from the City of Aurora. The District is fortunate to have a permanent lease of high quality South Platte water from the City of Aurora, but their rates increase from time-to-time and increased 2% for 2019. RWSD’s portion of the water usage rate has actually decreased in the last 10 years – from $1.63/1,000 in 2008 to $1.45/1,000 in 2018.
  3. The vast majority of any water or wastewater utility’s costs are fixed. That means the same costs exist, day in and day out, regardless of how much water is treated.  A smaller district like RWSD simply has fewer customers to spread those fixed costs over.  To ensure sound financial operations, the District has adopted a Monthly Base Charge to cover those fixed costs and ensure stable revenues over the entire year. The usage charge covers the District’s variable costs – like power, chemicals, operator overtime, and the cost of water from Aurora.
  4. Similar to your household expenses, the District’s costs go up over time, but the District is taking steps to control costs where we can. For 2018 our costs for operating supplies and overtime was over 50% less than 2017, which resulted in a 3.8% reduction in the variable cost per 1,000 gallons of water and helped us achieve a small, 1% increase in overall costs.  For 2019, we’re implementing schedule changes and an automated process control system that will help us to continue to control costs.

While RWSD’s rates are higher than some other districts in the area, it’s important to note that many of those districts have many times more customers that RWSD.  Similarly sized districts tend to have very similar rates, except for those that rely on groundwater.  Groundwater can be much less expensive than surface water – you’re not paying for the water other than pumping costs and treatment can be much simpler.  The downside is these groundwater supplies are not renewable, and supplies will decrease and pumping costs will increase over time. Many of these neighboring districts are transitioning to renewable surface supplies, and their rates will likely be increasing over time.

For 2019, RWSD will not be raising the Monthly Base Water Charge or the Tier 1 Usage Charge. We will be changing our tiers to charge more for use above 10,000 gallons per month. Tier 1 will now cover up to 10,000 gallons at the current rate of $5.30/1,000 gallons.  Approximately 96% of our residents use 10,000 gallons or less per month for indoor uses. We want to encourage residents to conserve water and respond to concerns that our rate structure doesn’t charge people who use more water appropriately, so we’re adding a new Tier 2 for water use from 10,001-20,000 with a rate of $6.30/1,000.  Approximately 50% of our residents will use more than 10,000 gallons per month in the summer irrigation season, and they will see an increase in their monthly bills.  If you are concerned about this increase, we encourage you to use less water on outdoor irrigation.  To help with lowering outdoor water use, we’re offering $25 coupons for the Garden in a Box program to replace turf with low-water use plants.  We are also increasing the rates for Tier 3 and Tier 4, so that residents that use more than 20,001 gallons per month will pay more for that use.  Here’s a table that summarizes the new tiers:

Residential Water Usage (per 1,000 gallons)

Tier 1: 0-10,000$5.30

Tier 2: 10,001-20,000$6.30

Tier 3:  20,001-40,000$7.50

Tier 4:  40,001 and up$12.50

For sewer, the City of Littleton charges us for wastewater treatment, and they increased our rates by 57 cents/EQR or residential equivalent.  To cover most of this increase, we are increasing the monthly Sewer Flat Fee by 50 cents/EQR to $38.25, for a total monthly charge of $41.25 with the $3 sewer system replacement charge.

Similar to our water rates, RWSD’s portion of the monthly sewer charge has also gone down over the last 10 years, from $19.87 in 2008 to $18.62 in 2018.  In the last 10 years, the Sewer Flat Fee has increased $3.75 to cover increased costs of treatment.  The total annual cost for sewer in 2019 will be $495, which is lower than many neighboring districts including some that are much larger than RWSD, and below the national average of $501.  This reflects the Board’s wisdom in regionalizing sewer service 15 years ago and taking advantage of the economies of scale realized at a larger treatment facility.

Every year we post the in-depth rate presentation that was given to the Board, so look for that on our website in the next few weeks.  If you have any questions or would like to discuss rates (or anything else), please give me a call and we can schedule a time to meet.  I’m always available.


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