Cost of water & sewer VS desertification of Salida.

For the City of Salida; I recognize that there is an inherent cost to providing sewer and water and that there is enough revenue to insure future upgrades and maintenance. However; it’s important to note, as far as my understanding goes, that we must not drive the cost of water at the expense of drying up our landscape. The appropriate trees, bushes, shrubs, and plants all work together to form a biological matrix that creates both a healthy bio-diverse landscape as well as a healthy soil that has the ability to hold more moisture in the ground which in truth actually conserves our water resources. Secondly; creating an appropriate ecologically fertile City landscape improves the physical and psychological health of its citizens, as well as helping maintain Salida as an attractive place to be. So, I ask for a balance between making sure water and sewer are a viable self – sustaining enterprise while at the same time encouraging citizens to maintain a healthy bio-diverse appropriate landscape. Greg Walter

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  • Well said Greg. This approach sounds like a win for everyone. With all of our finite resources (water, forests, minerals, petroleum), making the best use of what we have naturally is the way to avoid scarcity. Let's take a lesson from California where wanton usage, inappropriate landscaping and sheer greed have backed that State into a crisis. Oh, and they use much of the water that comes from our resources in Colorado anyway.

    Well planned use of landscape and reductions of water carelessly used has an immediate economic payback and also prevents us from falling into the same spiral. A combination of that and fees that ENCOURAGE wise use makes sense to me.

  • Greg: I think the City has already addressed your issue, but like me, you did not realize it. For a number of years I was under the impression that water and sewer were like other utilities - if you want to save money, you use less of them by conserving. This belief led me to try to save money by conserving water and thereby stressing my landscaping. I even considered removing some lawn and replacing it with rack. I discussed the matter with a city councilman who set me straight. After analyzing my water bills I realized that the cost of water used was a very small percentage of the bill. I started using significantly more water and my bills did not seem to rise proportionately.

    Now I have more evidence of this. I am currently building a house in the City. I already have the water tap but the meter is not hooked up so there is no way I can use water or sewer services. I still have to pay my now monthly bill however. My bill for a house that cannot use water and sewer is $42.50 a month. My bill for the house we live in now, 4 of us with a big lawn, is $53 a month. It has become clear to me that the water bills are set up to make us pay for all the costs without regard to how much you use. Consequently, I use a lot, and it really doesn't cost me more than if I try to conserve. The financial incentive if you are informed is against wise use, it really doesn't save you much of anything. My advice is flood irrigate and keep it green.

    Bill Smith

  • Bill, When council raised both sets of rates a few years ago, one of the major concerns was the infrastructure under the streets and in the alleys (pipes). At that time we were just beginning, to understand, how many properties were not used year round. The long term under investment in the infrastructure is real. All rates had been kept low for a long time with minimal reinvestment in the delivery system. Treated raw water, if available, even in a dry year, is not overly expensive. 100 year old pipes in the ground are. So when the engineering firm made its recommendations, that is how we got to the current rate structure. It was designed to get the non residents to pay a fair share and perhaps be able to gradually replace to old infrastructure. But, many residents never paid before, so they understand, why now? Greg, I agree completely with your initial point. So Bill and Greg use water, we may have plenty, but it is looking a lot like another dry year for Colorado. Jay

  • edited April 2015

    The City has recently embarked on an updated water/sewer rate study and this is the type of discussion that will be considered in making recommendations for future rates. You may participate in a simple survey right now to help the City Council and consultants establish our community's objectives in setting rates: http://cityofsalida.com/2015/04/customers-asked-to-participate-in-rate-study-survey/. There is also some background information available on the rates study on the City's website: http://cityofsalida.com/2015/03/public-invited-to-water-and-sewer-rate-study-work-session/

    Dara MacDonald

  • Well said Greg. I couldn't agree more.

    Rick Hum

  • edited April 2015

    One thing that I would really love to see is a less expensive way for multifamily projects to access water and sewer. A six unit building that is a condo or townhome has to pay for 6 hook ups at about $13 grand each, and a six unit apartment building has to pay for one (larger) hookup at a much lower total cost. Both are high density and will use the same amount of water, but if both models can use one hookup that will save homebuyers and renters money in the long run. Plus the City will have one bill (to the HOA or apartment building owner) and one meter so it will be easier for them, too.

    The wording in the survey is confusing to me on the questions about New Customers and "customer classes." I guess I will go to a work session and learn more.

  • What is missing from this whole discussion is that we are living in high desert but acting as if we lived in the UK or Michigan. Water is scarce but our distribution system makes it appear to be abundant. The landscape 150 years ago did not include trees on the plains except for a few along the river. A few years of low snow pack, see California, and normal would look much different and normal does change. See Chaco Canyon.What we really need is a discussion on the nature of our local society based on where we live.

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