Jay Gallagher: Clarity on water

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— Your editorial (“Water rates merit more explanation,” Aug. 8, 2010, Steamboat Pilot & Today) states that “all this burden will be on the backs of Steamboat residents who live north of Fish Creek — not those in the Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District.” The proposed city water rates will indeed apply only to residents in the city service area and to the city’s wholesale customer Steamboat II. However, wastewater rate increases will affect all residents of the city, including the Mount Werner Water District, as well as residents of the Steamboat II and Tree Haus metro districts.

The city of Steamboat Springs is the owner and operator of the regional wastewater treatment plant and the wastewater interceptor north of Fetcher Pond. By city ordinance, the city establishes the wastewater fees based upon the cost to serve customers in each district. For its part, the Mount Werner Water District bills and collects the city wastewater fees from its customers and remits monthly payments to the city to cover the district’s share of the operation and maintenance costs of the wastewater treatment plant and the city’s wastewater interceptor north of Fetcher Pond. The district also collects and remits city wastewater tap fees paid by developers in the district.

Regarding water, the city and the Mount Werner Water District split the cost of operating the Fish Creek Filtration Plant and Yampa River well fields based on each entity’s share of quarterly water usage. On top of these operating costs, each entity must add its own storage and distribution costs including repair and replacement, associated debt service, and billing, metering and administrative costs. It is on this basis that each entity determines the cost to serve its residential and commercial customers. The Mount Werner Water District completed a water rate study in 2006 and in January 2007, put into effect new water rates in a tiered or inclined-block structure. The district will be reviewing its water rates again in 2011.

Jay Gallagher

General manager, Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District

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