Oak Creek denied grant funds for water metering project | SteamboatToday.com

Oak Creek denied grant funds for water metering project

Michael Schrantz

— 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.

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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

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