2018 Water Utility Rates
As part of the 2018 budget process, the Boulder City Council approved utility rates changes that will adjust 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. The 2018 rates are also impacted by the results of a recent rate structure study. More information on rate structure changes can be found here. For a single-family residence, the rate will increase approximately $11 per month in 2018. Detailed information on rate changes can be found here.
The rate changes will be effective Jan. 1, 2018.
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.
Why are my rates increasing?
Water (Domestic and Irrigation)
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, the Barker Gravity Pipeline is over 100 years old and carries nearly a third of Boulder’s water supply. Your fees will go to support this and other important pipeline and plant projects, and other critical maintenance on the system.
Wastewater (Sanitary Sewer)
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 were cleaned and inspected. By the end of 2017, 70 percent of the pipes will have been cleaned and inspected. The project is expected to reach 100 percent by August 2018.
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. One key rate structure change is recovering more of the wastewater utility costs from the fixed service charge and decreasing the charge based on volume. This change recognizes the nature of utility expenses being primarily fixed costs.
Stormwater and Flood Management
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 fee 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 changes impact my monthly utility bill?
Monthly utility bills are based on each customer’s individual water/wastewater use and estimated impact to stormwater runoff. For a single-family residence, the rate will increase approximately $11 per month in 2018.
- Residential Customers
A typical single-family residential customer currently pays approximately $92 per month for water, wastewater, stormwater, and flood management services. The total bill increase will be approximately $11 per month. Impacts to residents of multi-family structures will vary depending on how the landlord or homeowners’ association (HOA) allocates costs.
- Commercial Customers
Commercial bills vary significantly from customer to customer due to the rate structure study. The water charge is dependent on adjustments to the water budget. Some larger volume customers may a smaller impact to their wastewater bill due to the increase to the fixed charge being balanced against the decrease to the volume charge. A customer with a large parking lot, or relatively more impervious area, will see a more significant increase in monthly stormwater and flood management charge.
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 will increase approximately 1.4 percent in 2018, based on construction cost indices.