Expect $2 hike in water bills with new year

For the second year in a row, Ute Water users will see an uptick in the amount they pay for the service.

Ute Water’s board unanimously adopted an increase in the district’s water rates at a recent meeting, similar to a rise in rates last year. Both increases are being attributed to a recent $15.5 million purchase of more than 12,000 acre-feet of water from Ruedi Reservoir near Aspen.

“We were trying to build up our reserves to purchase Ruedi (last year), and now that we have purchased it, we kind of need to replenish those reserves for capital projects,” said Joe Burtard, external affairs manager for the Ute Water Conservancy District. He further called the Ruedi purchase a “hidden gem” in terms of the cost of the purchase as compared with others in the industry.

In practical terms, Ute Water customers who use less than 3,000 gallons a month will see their bill go from $17 to $19. For larger-scale users, $.10 will be added to the cost per tier of usage, officials said.

Ute’s tiered system of billing for higher-use customers is in place for a reason, Burtard said.

“That’s our way of enforcing conservation. We do have a fairly aggressive rate structure, but that’s because we live in a desert, and we don’t want people using treated water for outdoor use,” he said.

The rate increase will happen for water delivered in December, appearing on users’ January billing statements. Also after the first of the year, tap fees will go up $200 to $6,700.

In announcing the rate hike, Ute said that a 2011 study pegged the district’s future customer base at 197,000 customers by 2045, up significantly from the 80,000 people it serves today.

The Ruedi water sale represented the largest single purchase made by the district over its entire 57-year history, according to a press release.


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