Broomfield City Council approved Tuesday a new tiered water rate system, which includes flat fee increases.
The new system aims to further the city and county’s water conservation efforts as the Colorado River basin — which supplies around 80% of Broomfield’s water — faces drought.
“Climate change is changing the way people have access to water in the west, and we need to do our part in this community to make sure that people aren’t wasting water and that we’re protecting our most valuable resource,” Councilmember William Lindstedt said. “I think the tiered water rates are a piece of trying to get the community moving towards conservation efforts.”
The new system is also about adequately funding water services for future development, said Brenda Richey, chief financial officer for the city and county.
“It’s not just from an environmental component that we’re talking about conservation, it’s from a fiscal perspective as well,” Richey told City Council.
Under the new system, homes that use between 1,000 and 5,000 gallons of water will pay $2.26 per 1,000 gallons; homes that use between 5,001 and 20,000 gallons each month will pay $3.33 per 1,000 gallons; and residences that use more than 20,000 each month will pay $4.52 per 1,000 gallons.
Under Broomfield’s current system, every household pays $3.36 per 1,000 gallons, regardless of how much the home conserves.
The new system also includes fixed monthly water fee increases for residents from $10.47 to $14.31, which is required to fund capital improvement projects and operating costs, Richey said.
Around 11% of Broomfield water customers — those who live on large acreages — would fit into the most expensive tier under the new water system, according to Jennifer Hoffman, city and county manager.
There are also concerns that homeowners associations on large properties will get slapped with extremely high bills under the new system.
Chris Roarty, president of the Anthem Ranch Board of Directors, asked City Council for a longer grace period to put in place water conservation measures.
“Allow us to collaborate with you and set reasonable yearly goals, with no surcharges being levied unless we miss our goal,” Roarty asked the Council.
Judy Kelly, also an Anthem Ranch resident, said water usage and conservation is an integral part of her community, and that they’ve spent several years taking action and making purchases to help conserve.
“We do want to work together with you,” Kelly told City Council. “We’d rather work together than be penalized.”
The city and county is working on improving billing and communications to warn homeowners associations and other water customers when they are about to get high bills, Hoffman said. Increases for monthly sewer service charges were also approved by City Council on Tuesday. Between 2023 and 2027, fees will increase incrementally each year from $3.63 per 1,000 gallons (or $14.52 per home) to $4.17 per 1,000 gallons (or $16.68 per home).
The new tiered water system, fixed water fee increases and sewer service charge increases are set to begin Jan. 1, 2023.