District News Articles

  2. This article is reprinted with permission from a August 7, 2009 Denver Water press release. For additional information about this release, please contact Stacy Chesney at (303) 628-6584.
    This summer’s wet weather has many people shutting off their lawn sprinklers to take advantage of what Mother Nature is offering, and Denver Water couldn’t be happier. Customers are using less water this year compared to recent years, but that’s prompted some to ask what it means for the utility’s revenues.
    In March 2009, Denver Water reduced its operating budget by 12 percent and adjusted its 2009 revenue expectations downward by 5 percent to respond to the downturn in the economy. However, due to the unusually wet weather, the utility anticipates an additional $16.4 million--or 8 percent--less revenue than expected for the year, which will be covered by reserves the utility maintains for seasonal variations.
    “We aggressively encourage conservation and wise water use and plan our budget accordingly,” said Chips Barry, manager of Denver Water. “Our customers continue to do a great job using water efficiently, so we expected water usage to be down because of our conservation plan. However, we’ve had an unexpectedly wet summer, and as a result, actual water use through July is even lower--about 18 percent less than we anticipated compared to recent years. Our financial planning routinely factors in variables like Denver’s weather, so a single year of extra precipitation doesn’t force us to do anything out of the ordinary.” 
    Denver Water’s rates are based on mostly fixed costs for infrastructure and on operating expenses that don’t change if water use fluctuates. While it is too early to know what Denver Water’s rates will be for 2010, the utility says customers can expect rate increases over the next 10 years to upgrade, repair and maintain its 2,650 miles of pipe and aging infrastructure--some of which is more than 100 years old. The public agency is not funded by taxes, but instead is funded by water rates and new tap fees (also called system development charges).
    “In the long-term, we are planning for customers to become more efficient and use less water in the future,” said Barry. “We live in a dry climate and are glad to see customers taking advantage of the rain and not watering. Ten years ago, we wouldn’t have seen this type of response in rainy weather. Conservation is critical to having a reliable water supply in the future.”