Hot Sheet

In Colorado, where water = politics, Denverites pay little, use little

Author: Dan Njegomir - May 30, 2017 - Updated: June 6, 2017

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… At least, compared with some other cities around the West. That’s according to the global water/resources news service Circle of Blue, brought to our attention by way of a report this week from High Country News in picturesque Paonia.

As noted in the News’s report, a survey by Circle of Blue on water use was focused foremost on the price of water, always a relatively scarce resource in the West:

…Circle of Blue found Santa Fe’s residential water the most expensive in 2017. There, approximately 12,000 gallons — at the top of the range the USGS estimates four people might use in a month — costs $154. The same volume costs just $31 in Salt Lake City, where water was cheapest in the 12 Western cities surveyed.

Also noteworthy:

Prices have risen in every Western city surveyed since 2010, even as conservation and efficiency have driven per capita water use down.

As High Country News’s Emily Benson explains, that seeming paradox is in part because when water use falls, local water utilities sometimes boost rates to cover their fixed costs amid a dip in revenue from water consumers.

Water rates aside, for us, an interesting takeaway is Denver’s ranking far below the generic, 12,000-gallon-a-month benchmark for household water consumption. Denver’s is 5,000 gallons. That’s still more than is consumed by San Franciscans (3,960) or Seattleites (3,740). Denverites consume far less, though, than Las Vegans (11,100 gallons per month) or San Joseans (11,220).

Accordingly, Denver’s average monthly water bill — a function of use as well as water rates — was $20.27 in the Circle of Blue survey. Among the 12 Western cities surveyed, only Salt Lake City’s average monthly bill was lower, at $18.42.

Read more; here’s the link again.

Dan Njegomir

Dan Njegomir

Dan Njegomir is the opinion editor for Colorado Politics. A longtime journalist and more-than-25-year veteran of the Colorado political scene, Njegomir has been an award-winning newspaper reporter, an editorial page editor, a senior legislative staffer at the State Capitol and a political consultant.