2016 Utility Rates
As part of the 2016 budget process, the Boulder City Council approved utility rate changes that will increase customers’ monthly charges for water, wastewater, stormwater and flood management services. Since these public services are not funded by tax dollars, they are supported by utility rates and fees paid to three separate “enterprise funds.”
Utility rates are increased in most years to maintain service levels as the costs of various materials and services (such as electricity and construction materials) escalate. Learn more about utility rates.
The 2016 utility rate increases will be effective beginning Jan. 1, 2016.
How much are rates increasing and why?
Water (Domestic and Irrigation) - 8%
A recent study estimated that over the next 25 years the United States must invest more than $1 trillion in underground water infrastructure. To use a local example, construction will begin in 2016 on rehabilitation of the Betasso Water Treatment Facility. This is the primary plant for water treatment and some of the equipment is more than 50 years old.
Wastewater (Sanitary Sewer) - 5%
Nationally, many sanitary sewer pipes were installed shortly after World War II and they are nearing the end of their service life. Locally, 64 percent of sanitary sewer lines were installed in the 1960s or earlier. Work continues on the city's sanitary sewer condition assessment and rehabilitation/replacement programs. In 2016, 50 percent of the pipes will be cleaned and inspected, and an anticipated 6 percent of them will be rehabilitated or replaced.
Wastewater quality charges for residential customers are billed based on Average Winter Consumption (average use from December through March) or actual water use, whichever is less. The wastewater service charge is set at a fixed monthly rate based on your water meter size. Non-residential customers are billed according to their water budget option.
Stormwater and Flood Management - 4%
The EPA has reported that $42 billion dollars is needed for national stormwater management. Locally, the city has 15 major drainageways, 160 miles of storm drain pipes and 4,800 catch basins that need to be maintained.
The stormwater/flood management fee is a fixed monthly charge for customers within the city limits. Single-family residential customers pay a fee based on their lot size. All other customers' fees are individually calculated according to the runoff generated from their lot. The free is used to support flood infrastructure, regulatory compliance, water quality monitoring and hazard, and stormwater quality education programs.
Frequently Asked Questions
How will the utility rate increases impact my monthly utility bill?
Monthly utility bills are based on each customer’s individual water/wastewater use and estimated impact to stormwater runoff.
How to Calculate the Potential Increase
To determine what your most recent bill may be with the new utility rates, multiply your current water charges by 1.08, wastewater charges by 1.05, and stormwater/flood management charges by 1.04. See how to read your utility bill.
If you have any questions about impacts to your utility rates or monthly bill, please contact the city’s Utility Billing Office at 303-441-3260 and a customer service representative will assist you.
A typical single-family residential customer currently pays approximately $80.50 per month for water, wastewater, stormwater, and flood management services. The total bill increase will be approximately $5 per month. Impacts to residents of multi-family structures will vary depending on how the landlord or homeowners’ association (HOA) allocates costs. In general, utility rate impacts will be smaller since certain components of the bill will be distributed over a larger number of residential customers.
Commercial bills vary significantly from customer to customer. A large water user, such as a hotel, will see a more significant increase in monthly water and wastewater charges than a single-family residential customer. A customer with a large parking lot, such as a grocery store, will see a more significant increase in monthly stormwater and flood management charges than a residential customer on a small lot.
Who approves rate increases?
Boulder’s elected City Council is responsible for making decisions about the utility rates needed to support the community-owned water, wastewater, and stormwater/flood utilities. City Council considers input from residential and commercial customers, advisory boards, and staff in determining the appropriate levels of investment and corresponding utility rates.
What is a Plant Investment Fee? Are those also increasing?
New developments in the city are required to pay Plant Investment Fees to help compensate existing utility customers for their previous investments in public infrastructure. The city uses a “buy-in” methodology where the total value of existing utility systems is determined and new users essentially buy shares in the system.
Plant Investment Fees are increased based on changes in the total value of each municipal utility system and are not adjusted based on other rate changes. Plant Investment Fees for new development are expected to increase by approximately 2.2 percent in 2016, based on construction cost indices.