Hot Sulphur Springs considers water rate increase, protecting water supply |

Hot Sulphur Springs considers water rate increase, protecting water supply

The Town of Hot Sulphur Springs is working on expanding its code to better protect and manage its water system and supply.

Possible water/sewer rate increases and an ordinance establishing a water supply protection district are in the draft stage.

Rate increases

A thorough 2009 budget assessment looked at operations of the water and sewer plant and concluded the town loses money with current rates, according to Hot Sulphur Town Clerk Sandra White.

For this reason, the town’s goal is to have a new rate structure in place by the second quarter, she said.

Under town review is a change in how the town establishes its base rate and how it charges for water use overages.

Residents of the town of Hot Sulphur Springs now pay a flat water rate of $192 per quarter, which includes water, sewer and water and sewer capital replacements. That rate applies to up to 15,000 gallons per quarter, but if more is used, a charge of $2.80 for each 1,000 gallons of overage is implemented.

The town board is considering a new rate structure that would set a base rate equal to how much water a single-family residential home of three bedrooms and three bathrooms would use, called a single-family equivalency.

One idea is to bill according to property service-line sizes.

Another idea is to adjust the rate according to the types of property, such as multi-family dwellings, motels, restaurants and bars and so on. All would be classified and valued in terms of water use.

Or, it is possible the town could elect a combination of these ideas, White said.

Drafts of a future law show 5,000 gallons of monthly use per household. The board is considering a tiered rate structure for water use over that 5,000 gallons ” the more water used, the higher the rate charged.

Consultants are working with the town to help craft the future ordinance. Of added consideration is how much town water users would be charged to help repay the town’s debt of an estimated $400,000 to make the town’s clear well in compliance with state regulations.

Presented with a draft water-rate structure at last Thursday’s town board meeting, trustees grappled with the complexity of the latest version that considered property uses.

Trustees and the mayor agreed the town’s goal was to try and keep the rate structure simpler.

“The whole point was for it to be as simple and as equitable as possible,” said Mayor Hershal Deputy. “Now we’re back to counting bathrooms.”

Water supply protection

Prompted by possible construction of a transfer station at the town’s gateway, Hot Sulphur Springs officials are looking at ways to further protect the town’s water supply.

In front of board members Thursday was a draft ordinance that would establish a water supply protection district for the town of Hot Sulphur Springs.

Such a protection district would grant the town greater oversight with permitting power to regulate “certain activities which create a foreseeable risk of damage or injury to the town’s water supply.”

According to the draft ordinance, the ability to establish such a district was granted by the Colorado Legislature in 1973.

Hot Sulphur’s jurisdiction over the water supply protection district would extend over the entire territory occupied by the town and all tributary water sources five miles above the public water systems serving Hot Sulphur, the ordinance states.

The law lists “Any solid or liquid waste disposal” among activities that may pose a pollution “hazard” to the town’s water.

The law would require an applicant to bear proof that a proposed activity includes “best management practices” and “no foreseeable risk of pollution” to the groundwater of the Water Supply Protection District.

The town is establishing three “zones” that would make up the district.

Similar laws have been passed in towns such as Grand Lake (Wellhead Protection in 2004) and Fraser in an effort to protect waterways when a gas station was proposed to be built near the Safeway grocery store.

” Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail

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