Oak Creek denied grant funds for water metering project

Advertisement

— The $200,000 grant request Oak Creek had been counting on to jump-start its project to install water meters across town has been denied.

The town’s plans to transition from a flat-rate system to metered pricing depended in large part on funds from the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Reclamation’s WaterSMART program. Additional funds from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs depended on the approval of the WaterSMART grant request, according to Town Administrator Mary Alice Page-Allen.

An effort to qualify for federal grant funds in 1987 led the town to pass an ordinance requiring metering. The money never materialized, and the ordinance was amended in 2005 to require meters only for new construction. Now, any building permit requires installation of a meter.

About 70 of the 453 active water accounts have meters, according to Page-Allen.

The WaterSMART program approved 35 of 182 applications across the nation worth a total of $20.8 million. Only one application was approved in Colorado. The Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association in Montrose was awarded nearly $39,000 to install monitoring equipment on canals.

Page-Allen said she is requesting a debriefing from the Bureau of Reclamation to learn what could be done to improve a future application.

A DOLA representative said Oak Creek could revise and resubmit a grant application to help fund the projects, she said.

Although there are other grant options, Page-Allen said, some programs won’t fund metering projects. The town might have to figure out how to fund more of the project itself, she said.

Oak Creek’s water enterprise fund should be minimally impacted, according to Page-Allen. The utility saw a 5 percent rate increase in the past budget cycle as well as being assessed a management fee that is paid into the general fund.

“The bottom line won’t be affected, as it stands, by the lack of not getting this,” she said. “We still need to figure out a way to make metering happen for the system.”

To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206 or email mschrantz@SteamboatToday.com

Comments

Scott Wedel 1 year, 6 months ago

Only 20% of the grant applicants are approved and those probably are not from districts that divert 5% of their revenues to government's general fund spending. I would expect anyone awarding grants would be unimpressed by applications from districts whose budgets show they have other more pressing priorities outside of the water district.

And the lack of good management to implement any of the other transitional plans achieved by so many other water districts should also be distressing. A DOLA official visiting Oak Creek in 2007 said he knew of no other water district in the state not using meters on commercial accounts.

Oak Creek Town government has this idiotic belief stated numerous times by different people that metering must be all or nothing. They ignore the reality that numerous other water districts have transitioned to metering.

A transition plan is pretty easy. The water district just has two rate plans. The metered plan is a simple calculation charging those customer their share of the system's needed revenue based upon usage. Then accounts without meters are charged their share of the balance of needed revenues. So it creates a constant incentive for lower usage water users to add meters since they will be paying less if they install meters. And it means that unmetered customers will see their bills ratchet upwards which creates incentives for them to get metered.

Why Town of Oak Creek has been unable to do that sort of transition plan for at least for the small number of commercial accounts, which should be the biggest water users is inexplicable and inexcusable.

Town makes adding meters about as difficult as possible. They make residents pay full retail for meters easily found new deeply discounted.

0

Scott Wedel 1 year, 6 months ago

Over a year ago I showed the Town the water meter installation document for New York City developed by their water dept engineers. The Town instead relies upon the Denver distributor for Sensus water meters on what models should be installed.

So, the Sensus distributor recommends an $1,300 dollar water meter for an apartment building. The New York City water engineers note the difference between a small apartment building that runs from street water line pressure vs major buildings with storage tanks on the roof and use pumps to pressurize the lines. Turns out the $1,300 water meter is designed for the major buildings because it is designed to be accurate when water line is running wide open filling the water tank at 250 gallons per minute. The $1,300 meter is not be used in NYC for apartment buildings running off of street pressure because that is a lower volume case where it is more important to be more accurate at lower flow rates. In NYC, apartments with street pressure building plumbing are supposed to install the $500 water meter which is more accurate at lower flow rates.

So what did Town of Oak Creek do with that knowledge? Absolutely nothing. Just because engineers have studied the issue on what is most accurate doesn't affect Town of Oak Creek expertise on what to require.

That the Town has been dealing with installing water meters for 26 years is a statement of continued complete incompetence. I have a building with a 20 year old water meter that is now functionally obsolete without ever having been read.

That the Town general fund profits from the water fund by skimming 5% of revenues off the top is just further proof of the Town's incompetence at managing a water district.

0

Scott Wedel 1 year, 6 months ago

Well, there appears to be at least one person reading my comments on Oak Creek water utility.

The reason Town of Oak Creek operates the utilities as they do is because the Town's primary objective of operating the utilities is to gain money for the general fund to operate town government.

Thus, water meters is viewed as an expensive burden for the Town. The Town government doesn't need meters to meet their goals. The Town can set fixed rates that generate enough revenues for the Town. Water meters are only needed to treat customers fairly which is not a priority for Town government.

The Colorado PUC supervises utilities because utilities are natural monopolies in a position to abuse that monopoly power. The PUC has a number of customer protection regulations. Town owned utilities are exempt from PUC regulations. The Town of Oak Creek puts such a low priority on treating customers fairly that the Town violates PUC customer protections on when deposits are required, the amount of the deposit, when deposits are returned, how much of the deposit is returned, the amount of late fees and electrical service disconnect procedures.

The mistreatment of utility customers by Town government is also demonstrated by their bulk water sales. People out of town can fill up water tanks at a two cents per gallon charge. The Town sells bulk water at an attractive price because that is considered additional revenue and they want that revenue. But to get those revenues, the Town is selling water at a lower price for water than it is charging some customers in Town. In fact, the car wash would be open if the Town was willing to charge it the rate for out of towners are allowed to pay for filling tanks.

It just further demonstrates that the Town's primary objective in operating the utilities is to be able to skim money into the general fund. The general fund receives more money skimmed from the utilities than from sales and property taxes combined. The utilities are not operated to service it's customers at a fair price.

And so the Town has not been motivated to come up with a plan for reading water meters and billing for usage in 25 years.

0

Scott Wedel 1 year, 6 months ago

The problems run too deep for one person being elected to make a difference. Mayor J tried to do so much more and was stopped by other board members.

If the utilities were not operated to benefit the general fund then the general fund would have far less money. So instead of being able to add an employee to run rec programs over the summer, the Town government would be faced with tough choices.

And now the current theory of town governance is that the Mayor does not even get to vote unless there is a tie.

It is going to take a bunch of people including several running at the same time to get a majority of the Town Board to change the current policies.

0

rhys jones 1 year, 6 months ago

Jerry -- We can forgive the occasional breach, IF it is done in a reasonable fashion -- and in this case you should have suggested a more appropos position, like Town Crier.

How 'bout them Roclies? Is this the start of the typical slump?

1

rhys jones 1 year, 6 months ago

Jerry II -- I might have suggested Court Jester, but those guys had to have a sense of humor, lest they get stoned.

1

Scott Wedel 1 year, 6 months ago

Rhys,

"How 'bout them Roclies? Is this the start of the typical slump?"

Could you please follow your own boycott? The forums are greatly improved without pointless off topic posts.

0

john bailey 1 year, 6 months ago

blah, blah , blah, stuff it. nobody's talking to you OZ of Zero...... wash that hair yet? if the Rockies didn't stumble in May they might have a good year, but this l.o.b. carp has got to stop.........

0

Dan Kuechenmeister 1 year, 6 months ago

Jerry, Excellent suggestion. As Scott posts on a majority of letters posted he must have a wealth of knowledge that would be best used by being a politician. Rhys, It has been said, " a baseball season is a marathon not a sprint." There is still reason for optimism.

0

jerry carlton 1 year, 6 months ago

Rhys Thanks for the support. We all backslide occasionaly. The Rocks looked like chopped meat against the Astros. If they look that bad in the upcoming series against the last place Dodgers they are in trouble. Maybe they shousd play San Fran and Arizona all the time?

Dan I am still optimistic. Just not as much as when they took 2 of 3 from San Fran and Arizona in a row. Then loose 3 of 4 to a last place team and 2 of them at home? How can they do that?

0

rhys jones 1 year, 6 months ago

What is the sound of one hand clapping? It's the FISH, talking to himself. Anybody else have time to read that babble? Not me. I've got a real life again. Unlike some.

Jerry and Dan -- The Rockies provide infinitely more interesting fodder for a forum than the lame blatherings submitted so far, which we have outnumbered 3:1. Now the Dodgers are smearing our hapless Rocks, but as Dan points out, it's a marathon, not a sprint. We've still got four innings to score five runs. Now if Tulo would quit watching strikes sail by...

0

rhys jones 1 year, 6 months ago

For those who missed the online symposium in current Net lingo

http://www.steamboattoday.com/news/2013/may/26/middle-mile-glossary-broadband-technology-terms/

FISH = First In Still Here

Bottom of the 9th coming up, ain't looking good...

0

rhys jones 1 year, 6 months ago

Hey, Aranado just got fanned looking... who am I to criticize? I'd swing at 'em three feet over my head.

0

rhys jones 1 year, 6 months ago

TODD!! Ain't over yet. (yo Dan) fishes don't grok.

0

rhys jones 1 year, 6 months ago

Okay so Tulo finally deigned move lumber, or hit the dugout-- ALMOST reaching the wall... after watching two more-hittable strikes sail by... good thing he's got an arm.

0

jerry carlton 1 year, 6 months ago

Rhys Nice to see the old guy, Todd, come thru! Well it is another game today! If only they could have got one more run in the bottom of the ninth.

0

rhys jones 1 year, 6 months ago

Jerry -- Todd was born the year I graduated high school -- I was in boot camp that day; Andre Miller wasn't even a glint in his daddy's eyes yet -- and we call those guys "old"!!

I'm sorry but I will miss today's game -- there is a mess with my name on it -- and that's the "real life" I alluded to earlier. Go Rockies!!

0

Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.