Mancos OKs higher water rates to fund infrastructure

Tom Nunn hooks up the electrical wires to a pump to get water flowing to Mancos residents during the water crisis in February. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Mancos Times

Tom Nunn hooks up the electrical wires to a pump to get water flowing to Mancos residents during the water crisis in February.

Mancos residents will open their May bills to find higher water rates after a town board's vote Wednesday.

"Mancos customers receive a lot more water for less money than customers with other water companies and other small towns in Colorado, and this just isn't sustainable for investments," Town Administer Andrea Phillips said at an informational meeting on water rates in February.

The town trustees voted unanimously to rise rates to fund new infrastructure improvements after months of discussion and research by a consultant.

The base rate was increased by $5 per month, and for the next four years, the monthly rate will continue to rise by $2.50 a year.

The maximum number of gallons allowed will be reduced from 10,000 to 8,000, and the overage rates will be increased from $1.75 to $2 per 1,000 gallons.

At the water dock, users will now pay a quarter for 15 gallons instead of 20 gallons.

Trustee Queenie Barz introduced the amendment that eased the new rates a little, by only reducing the maximum gallons allotted to 8,000 instead of 7,000 as previously planned. She argued that residents have been planning their gardens at 10,000 gallons.

"It would lessen the blow to those that are high-water users," said Mayor Rachael Simbeck.

The amended maximum number of gallons passed as part of the new rate structure.

The increased rates will help pay for infrastructure improvements that are estimated to cost $2.9 million.

Replacing 9,000 feet of water mains will cost about $1.5 million, and the new water tank will cost about $1 million, according to a study by RPI Consulting.

Other needed improvements include new water meters and new water hydrants.

The improvements could improve help decrease the fire insurance rates by improving the availability of water in town.

The availability of water contributes to how insurance companies assess the risk and in turn determine premiums. The ability to deliver enough gallons per minute water held back Mancos' rating, which is currently a six on a one-to-10 scale, Mancos Fire Chief Tony Aspromonte said.

"The fire department can only score so high," he said.

The water volume and pressure as well as the maintenance of hydrants contribute to 40 percent rating, which is assessed by a national organization called the ISO.