Westminster water and sewer rates increased in January 2017 to ensure that the city can continue to provide safe, clean drinking water and dependable wastewater services to Westminster residents.
The 8 percent water rate increase and the 6 percent sewer increase will have a combined average impact of $4.67 per month on city residents, depending on the amount of water used. You may notice the increase as the weather gets warmer and you begin irrigating your yard.
Why do rates increase?
The city’s mission is to provide high quality water and reliable wastewater services at the lowest cost possible. Just as in other areas of life, costs to run the utility generally rise and rarely fall. These costs include chemicals, power, parts, labor and repair/replacement projects. Because the only funding the city receives to pay for the operation of the utility system is water and sewer rates, the city is careful to be as efficient as possible while providing safe and reliable services to customers.
What do rates pay for?
They pay for Westminster’s utility system. The majority of Westminster’s water supply begins at the Continental Divide and travels down to Standley Lake through creeks and ditches. Once in Standley Lake, the water moves through underground pipes to one of the two water treatment plants the city owns and operates for its residents; the Semper Water Treatment Facility and the Northwest Water Treatment Facility. After the water is treated, it is pumped into the water distribution system with over 575 miles of pipes buried below ground. After water is used, the wastewater is sent into the wastewater collection system with over 400 miles of additional pipe buried underground, until it reaches one of two wastewater treatment facilities; the Westminster-owned Big Dry Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility, or the regional Metro Wastewater Treatment Facility.
In between the treatment facilities and homes/businesses are 12 pumping stations to keep the water or wastewater moving. Ten water tanks are visible on the city’s skyline - these store treated water and provide additional pressure to the water system.
The system runs on electricity (a lot of electricity), chemicals for treatment, technical experts to run and maintain the system (nearly 100 people) on a 24/7 basis. And don’t forget all the Westminster trucks and equipment on the roads.
Not including the value of all the trucks and equipment, the city’s annual budget for operations is about $25 million. The result is a system that reliably serves over 32,500 individual water and sewer accounts, providing service to over 53,500 households and businesses with high quality water and wastewater services.
The entire utility system is valued at about $4.7 billion, and the city’s residents own all of it. Parts of the system were built anywhere from 50 years ago to some that are being built today. The city is constantly repairing and replacing system components at a current rate of about $23 million per year. As time goes on and the system continues to age, even more components will need repair and replacement. Nothing lasts forever.
The city will continue to offer great service at the lowest possible cost, but that cost will continue to rise as all costs do. Be assured that rate increases are based on the best, most recent information and are implemented at the lowest possible level.