Glenwood Springs, Park East at odds over water bill |

Glenwood Springs, Park East at odds over water bill

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Park East residents and the City of Glenwood Springs are at odds regarding the South Glenwood neighborhood’s 2008 water bill.

The Park East subdivision’s homeowners association was approximately $15,000 short on their $54,000 water bill for 2008 because what the association manager Keith Edquist said was a result of residents being charged potable water rates for irrigation water because the raw water system was not properly working.

According to a letter from Edquist to the city, it was stated that the residents of Park East have paid the HOA in “good faith” that the system would deliver raw water at raw water rates, not potable water rates. However, the letter stated that in 2008, the HOA believes that the system only delivered raw water for 39 days, and potable water for 109 days because of what he called an “unforeseeable failure of the raw water delivery system,” which resulted in an increase in expense. Residents were charged the higher potable water rates as well. Some residents think that if the raw water isn’t available, that they should be charged the raw water rates for water used for irrigation.

According to a memo from Glenwood Public Works Director Robin Millyard, dated March 26, when the system was put into operation in 2000, Park East and Cardiff Glen subdivisions were set up and billed as a single account, with only one reoccurring monthly customer charge of $9.32.

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However, the water rate schedule provides for a differential cost between the raw water and treated water used. The current raw water rate is $1.33 per 1,000 gallons, while the treated water rate is tiered determined on usage. The tiered rates start at $1.60 per 1,000 gallons up to 5,500 gallons, $2.13 per 1,000 gallons between 5,500 and 17,500 gallons, and $2.83 per 1,000 gallons over 17,500 gallons consumed per billing period.

Millyard explained that while there are some inherent inequities with such an arrangement, it’s not at all uncommon for a development, with multiple users, to be on a single master meter. He also said that mobile home parks on the City’s water system are set up on similar billing schedules.

Edquist explained that the residents in the neighborhoods could easily reach the 17,500 gallons of use under the tiered rates in a matter of minutes on an average summer day.

Millyard’s letter stated that Park East’s raw water consumption rose 22.4 percent from 2005 to 2006. In 2007 it rose another 8.6 percent to over 18.5 million gallons for the year and 2008 remained similar to 2007.

Edquist pointed out that the subdivision’s water expenses increased 46 percent from 2006 to 2007, from $24,280 to $33,840, and raised another 60 percent from 2007 to 2008, to more than $54,000.

The Park East 2008 budget was set in December 2007 at $33,840, but they were billed more than $49,000, which left the HOA $15,000 short.

“I believe the consumption numbers are accurate, and the adopted rate schedules were appropriately applied,” Millyard wrote.

Millyard told Glenwood City Council at the April 2 meeting that the system on the city side had been tested for leaks in the fall of 2008, and that none were found. However, it was possible that there could be a leak on the subdivision’s side of the water line.

“With what the data is suggesting, and obviously what we’ve observed, there is a lot of water going somewhere,” Millyard said.

Glenwood Springs Mayor Bruce Christensen asked Millyard if a leak was found, if the city would be able to estimate the amount of water that leaked and if the city could credit the subdivision for the amount charged. Millyard was unsure but said that another leak test would be performed this spring in the Park East subdivision and that they would be able to estimate fairly accurately how much water leaked.

“We aren’t doing this as a way to increase our revenues or as a way to penalize Park East or Cardiff Glen,” Millyard said. “The billing issue is nothing that anyone anticipated.”

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