Water study meeting tonight

By Hank Lohmeyer

The Town of Cedaredge will host an information meeting tonight, Wednesday, May 24, to share the results of a water and sewer rate study. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the Community (Civic) Center at 140 NW 2nd Street. The study was conducted for the Town of Cedaredge by Carl Brown Consulting of Jefferson City, Mo., with a website gettinggreatrates.com.

Some facts based on utility rate information available through the Department of Local Affairs might help Cedaredge utility customers evaluate the 146-page-long rate study. Comparing Cedaredge rates and charges for residential in-town municipal utility customers with those same charges statewide, the DOLA information shows:

• Water bills: average monthly residential water bill in 2015 for Cedaredge, $42.18; state median $43.43.

• Sewer charges: average monthly wastewater bill in 2015 for Cedaredge $33.20; state median $32.00.

• Tap fees: single-family water tap for Cedaredge $8,000; state median $6,450. Single-family sewer tap for Cedaredge $4,000; state median $4,500.

The study does not deal with water issues that have formed the basis of water discussions for generations: issues such as Cedaredge's ample supply and ownership of senior water rights, its excess water treatment capacity, and the varying annual supply availability from Grand Mesa's snowpack. The study presents 28 pages of narrative about technical water rate issues, and then it presents 118 pages of small print numerical spreadsheet analysis.

Neither does the study address local water management issues which have recently cost Cedaredge water rate payers $175,000 plus staff time and legal fees for a court settlement, or the town's use of the water fund as a source of cash to subsidize golf course operations.

There will be no decisions on local water/sewer rates made at the May 24 meeting, according to town staff. "Any decision on rate changes will be in June at the earliest," states a memo to trustees.

Any decision on rates made in June could take effect as early as July.