Glenwood looks to rectify high raw water rates | PostIndependent.com
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Glenwood looks to rectify high raw water rates

In what they see as a raw deal, some city residents are paying more to irrigate their yards with raw water than if they used treated water.Glenwood Springs City Council this week will consider rectifying the problem by adopting separate, lower rates for its untreated water.Mark Butler, president of the Park East Subdivision Homeowners Association, is glad council is looking at the change.”I think the only equitable way is what they’re looking at doing,” he said.The city installed the raw water system to save on costs where treatment is unneeded. But current water rates make no distinction between use of treated and untreated water.Making matters worse at Park East, the raw water line passes through a single, master meter to reach the neighborhood, and the subdivision is treated as a single customer. That penalizes Park East homeowners under a city rate structure that encourages conservation by increasing rates as usage rises.The first 5,500 gallons cost $1.20 per 1,000 gallons. The next 12,000 gallons cost $1.60 per 1,000 gallons, and any higher usage costs $2.12 per 1,000 gallons. Customers also pay a $7 monthly service fee.”This causes the highest rate to apply almost immediately to all water used due to the single master meter,” Butler and association manager Keith Edquist wrote to City Council in July.Council tonight will consider an ordinance that would charge raw water users a flat $1 per 1,000 gallons, in addition to the $7 monthly fee. City officials believe that would result in rates roughly half of treated water rates, based on typical household irrigation usage.Butler said he supports using raw water to cut demand for treated water and enable the city to postpone having to upgrade its treatment systems.But he objects to paying more for inferior water that tends to clog up sprinkler heads. And the city doesn’t allow residents to irrigate with treated water if raw water is available, he said.City Council was to have considered adopting separate rates a year ago, but postponed action under the understanding that more analysis was to have been done, city manager Jeff Hecksel said.Last year’s action would have resulted in savings beginning with this year’s irrigation season. Because of the city’s delay in changing rates, council will consider making the rate change retroactive to the start of the season, Hecksel said.That could result in credits being issued to several users of the system, including the Cardiff Glen subdivision and Sopris Elementary School. The city also uses the system on ball fields in that part of south Glenwood Springs.Meanwhile, Park East continues to struggle with a secondary concern. Raw water to other customers first passes through Park East’s master meter. Park East’s bill is determined by taking meter readings from further down the water line, subtracting them from the master meter amount and charging Park East for the difference in water used. Under that arrangement, Park East residents could end up paying for down-line water leaks.Hecksel said he understands their concern.”I think the ideal scenario would be to have a separate downstream meter just for Park East,” he said.Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. 516dwebb@postindependent.com


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