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Longmont water system master plan carries projected $215 million price tag

John Fryar | The Daily Times-Call (Longmont, Colo.)

A capital improvements program to ensure Longmont can continue to provide enough drinking water to its residents — and to those who’ll be living here when the city gets completely built out to its current planning-area boundaries — would cost more than $214.7 million over the coming 20 years.

That estimate — which doesn’t include adjustments for inflation — was part of an Integrated Treated Water Master Plan the Longmont city staff presented to the City Council Tuesday night.

Longmont had about 90,220 residents by the end of 2013, the city staff said.

The current peak summer day’s demand for treated water is about 32 million gallons a day, Bob Allen, the Department of Public Works and Natural Resources’ operations manager, told the council.

Once Longmont is fully developed and built out — something the master plan suggests could happen between 2040 and 2057 — it could be home to a projected 112,953 residents, and the city’s treated-water system ideally should be capable of accommodating a peak daily demand of 57 million gallons, Allen said.

The approximately $215 million price tag includes — in addition to expenses of expanding water-treatment facilities and drinking-water delivery systems to meet those future needs — the costs of continuing to repair last year’s flood damages to the water system, costs of replacing aging infrastructure and costs of projects that would reduce risks of catastrophic system failures.

The city staff will present the council with a financial plan for funding the water utility’s future needs — a plan that could include proposed increases in water rates and fees — in October, according to public works and natural resources director Dale Rademacher.

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Councilman Brian Bagley, however, told the staff Tuesday that he’d like to see their water-system financing proposals be creative and include “anything and everything you can think of,” in addition to possible rate, fee or tax-increase suggestions.

That, Bagley said, could include the sale of city assets, such as the eventually-to-be-retired Wade Gaddis Water Treatment Plant, or the sales or leases of unused city water supplies to other water users.

“I want to see revenue options,” Bagley said during a break in the Tuesday night study session.

Councilman Gabe Santos said during that recess that while capital improvements to the city’s water system are definitely going to be needed, they’ll take time to finance and build, and the methods of covering those expenses will likely be “a combination of everything.”

Councilman Jeff Moore said during the recess that while higher water rates aren’t likely to be popular, “at the same time, people expect this service.”

Moore said the capital improvements program would be “an investment in the future” and that he’s particularly concerned about the conditions of underground pipelines and other aging parts of the city’s water utility infrastructure.

Councilwoman Sarah Levison said during the meeting that Longmont is not alone in needing to replace obsolete or likely-to-fail pipelines and other parts of the city’s raw-water and treated-water delivery networks.

“Any city of any age in Colorado is facing the same thing,” Levison said.

Also at Tuesday’s study session, the City Council resumed its reviews of the $275.85 million budget the city staff has proposed for 2015. The staff’s budget presentations are to continue this month, with the council expected to hold a public hearing and cast formal votes on the spending package in October.


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