How to get more for less



Springs Utilities sold less water in 2009 than it did in 2005, about 4.7 billion fewer gallons, or about 17 percent less. But the city-owned operation raked in $22 million, or about 28 percent more, in net revenues in 2009 compared to 2005.

Pueblo Reservoir: Our water source.
  • Pueblo Reservoir: Our water source.

This, in American business, is what's called charging more for providing less. However, let's not forget that rates have been raised several times in the last several years, notably to cover costs of planning and construction of the Southern Delivery System. The pipeline project from Pueblo Reservoir is expected to cost ratepayers $2.3 billion (that's construction and financing costs) over the next several decades but will expand the city's water supply by a third, to 152,000 acre feet of water per year.

At 325,851 gallons per acre foot, that comes to, well, my calculator won't go that high. It's a lot of water.

Anyway, the information cited here comes from a table contained in Colorado Springs Utilities' bond documents for its recent $180-million issue to pay for SDS costs. It shows a 2.6 percent decline in water use from 2005 to 2009 by residential customers within the city and a 4.5 percent decline by commercial customers within the city. Here's the chart, if you want to do your own math:


As for future supply, Utilities says in the documents:

The Utilities believes it will have sufficient water supply to meet the growing needs of
the area served by the Water System until approximately the 2040 decade under present
population and per capita demand projections, assuming retention of all present water resource
entitlements and timely development of necessary additional facilities including, but not limited
to, the Southern Delivery System discussed below under “— Capital Improvements to the Water
System.” The loss of entitlement, delays in the development of water resources, or growth of
population and/or per capita demand in excess of projections, or other similar factors, could
result in interim water supply shortages.

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