Golden Utilities Rate Change

Over the past several months, Golden has conducted a comprehensive rate study to look at how customers are charged for water, sewer and stormwater drainage services. As part of the rate study process, we invited a committee of local residents to help us evaluate our current system and provide feedback on proposed changes. The committee included members of the Planning Commission, the Citizens Budget Advisory Council, the Citizens Sustainability Advisory Board and community members at large. Together with the Utility Rate Citizen Committee, we have reviewed the existing utility rate structures, identified opportunities to modernize and improve how we charge for water, wastewater and stormwater services and evaluated recommendations to ensure they are fair, equitable and tied to the demands that different types of customers place on the system.

For more information about the committee’s work visit www.cityofgolden.net/URCC. We have posted the agendas, presentations, discussion summaries for all URCC meetings, and the committee’s final report so interested citizens can learn more.

A separate part of the rate study included the completion of a comprehensive financial analysis to evaluate how much revenue each utility needs and when it will be needed. The financial analysis created a financial plan for the next five years to determine how much money is needed to maintain, upgrade and/or expand the system. Rates are designed to ensure the utility has the money to meet these needs. Based on these financial analysis, staff is recommending a 6.2% increase in water rates, A 12% increase in drainage rates, and no change to sewer rates.

Over the past several months, Golden has conducted a comprehensive rate study to look at how customers are charged for water, sewer and stormwater drainage services. As part of the rate study process, we invited a committee of local residents to help us evaluate our current system and provide feedback on proposed changes. The committee included members of the Planning Commission, the Citizens Budget Advisory Council, the Citizens Sustainability Advisory Board and community members at large. Together with the Utility Rate Citizen Committee, we have reviewed the existing utility rate structures, identified opportunities to modernize and improve how we charge for water, wastewater and stormwater services and evaluated recommendations to ensure they are fair, equitable and tied to the demands that different types of customers place on the system.

For more information about the committee’s work visit www.cityofgolden.net/URCC. We have posted the agendas, presentations, discussion summaries for all URCC meetings, and the committee’s final report so interested citizens can learn more.

A separate part of the rate study included the completion of a comprehensive financial analysis to evaluate how much revenue each utility needs and when it will be needed. The financial analysis created a financial plan for the next five years to determine how much money is needed to maintain, upgrade and/or expand the system. Rates are designed to ensure the utility has the money to meet these needs. Based on these financial analysis, staff is recommending a 6.2% increase in water rates, A 12% increase in drainage rates, and no change to sewer rates.

If you have any questions about the rate study or proposed rate changes, let us know here! We'll do our best to get an answer to you as quickly as possible.

Q&A

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  • Why are residential water rates increasing via tiered rates while commercial and multi-family rates are decreasing with a flat rate? Shouldn't these other users be on a tier system as well in order to have an incentive to conserve?

    5 days ago

    The committee decided that irrigation conservation would be the goal of the rate structure in this current study.  The residential tiers are designed to assure that all indoor use is billed at the lowest tier.  The second tier is established at a volume that will require very efficient irrigation of turf on the average residential lawn.  All the irrigation only accounts are billed at a rate slightly higher than the residential second tier.

    Most multi-family and commercial accounts do not show the same seasonal variation that single family residents have - because they either have limited landscaping or separate irrigation accounts.We considered tiers and other rate structures for commercial, multifamily, and irrigation accounts to encourage conservation, but determined that we lacked the data to create  conservation rate structures for these accounts at this time.  Staff would like to continue to collect data, particularly for irrigation accounts, and revisit this decision.

    We do expect residential water bills to go up and residential wastewater bills to go down as a result of these changes.  Commercial accounts will experience the opposite: lower water bills and higher wastewater bills.

  • What is the City doing about wasting water? I often witness broken sprinklers flooding the grass, sprinklers watering the sidewalks, and sprinklers operating during rainstorms. I’ve also noticed that the storage tank on the hill above Heritage dells has been leaking for about 8 months. Why isn’t that being repaired?

    5 days ago

    The tiered water rates for residential accounts are designed to encourage efficient irrigation practices and discourage the wasteful watering practices that you describe.  Golden will continue to offer free irrigation audits, xeriscape seminars, and discounted xeric gardens to encourage more efficient irrigation and landscaping.

    The 6400 tank that is located above Heritage Dells started leaking last spring.  After a failed attempt to repair it, we put it into service for the summer despite the leak because we cannot meet summer demand without that tank in operation.  Now that water demand is down, we have emptied the tank and repairs were completed this week.  We will disinfect the tank and put it back into service by early next week.

  • The changes in proposed rates includes a fixed fee for the sewer rate, which shows existing and the rate decrease. However. our water bill does not have a sewer rate and never has as far as I know. Yet, it does have a Wastewater Service fixed fee at $17.33/mo. Please explain the difference and why I do not see a sewer rate on our bill. Thank you.

    javablood asked 30 days ago

    We do not measure sewer flows.  We assume that the volume of wastewater that you send to sewer is fairly constant month over month and is equal to the amount of water you use during the winter (when you are not using water outside).  We calculate sewer charges based on water use in February and it remains the same for the year. Since we don't measure sewer flows and the charges don't change month to month, we charge what appears to be a fixed fee on your bill, but it does include both fixed and volumetric charges. The fee of $17.33 on your bill includes $12.11 in fixed charges plus $5.22 in monthly usage (2,000 gallons at $2.61/1,000 gallons). Under the new rates, you would pay $13.56 per month ($7.30 in fixed charges plus $6.26 for monthly usage).

  • I’m not sure I understand the Tier 1/2/3 water usage charges. If in one month, I used 45,000 gallons, would I be charged $4.77x15+6.21x15+7.16x15? Or would all 45 units be at the highest tier? Tier 1 “min 5000 gallons”: Does this mean if your winter usage is less than 5000, you get charged for 5000 anyway? Sewer rate structure: There is a footnote that says “Residential customers are charged a monthly water usage rate…” Should this word be sewer instead of water? What is Average Winter Consumption? Is this average over several months? What are the start and end dates to establish AWC?

    about 1 month ago


    1.  The tiers are progressive.  So, in the example above, if your AWC is 15,000 gallons per month and you use 45,000 gallons total, you would be charged $4.77x15+6.21x15+7.16x15. 

    2.  You will only be charged for the water you use.  If you use 3,000 gallons you will be charged for 3,000 gallons, even if your AWC is set at 5,000.  The goal with the AWC is to make sure that all inside use is charged at the lowest rate.

    3.  We do not measure sewer flows.  We assume that the volume of wastewater you send to sewer is fairly consistent over the year and is equal to the water you use during the winter (when you are not using water outside).  We calculate sewer charges based on water use in February.  This is not a change from current practice.

    4.  Average Winter Consumption (AWC) will be based on water use in February, just like sewer flows.  If you use less than 5,000 gallons of water in February, your AWC will be set at 5,000.  If you use more than 5,000 gallons, your AWC will be set at the volume you use.

    For most single family residential customers in Golden, water and drainage costs will increase and sewer costs will decrease with the proposed changes.