LOVELAND — Rising water costs driven by booming growth along northern Colorado’s urban corridor are driving price increases in other sectors, according to water industry experts, who say collaboration and innovation are key to meeting the challenge.
“Residential construction is driving up water costs,” said Adam Jokerst, Rocky Mountain regional director at WestWater Research, during a panel discussion at the annual BizWest Confluence Colorado Water Summit today at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Loveland.
Jokerst noted that 83% of all water transactions in Colorado go to the municipal sector and that most of it is “concentrated in the Northern Front Range. It is the most expensive area to buy water in the state and one of the most expensive in the country.”
The cost of Colorado-Big Thompson’s water units rose 30% between 2015 and 2020, he said, while prices elsewhere in the state were fairly flat. Furthermore, he added, only about 10% of the remaining C-BT entities are left for the transaction.
Jokerst said water can account for as much as 10% of the cost of a home, or $50,000 of the total cost of a $500,000 home. Written off over a 30-year mortgage, he added, “That’s about $300 a month. But local residents just don’t see that. They only see the water cost on their monthly bill, which might be around $70.
“The cost of water far exceeds the cost of housing,” he said. “The difference is big and it’s growing.”
An example of this exponential growth is the city of Severance, where the population has grown from 106 in 1990 to nearly 11,000 today, City Manager Nicholas Wharton said. For years, only one main brought water to the city, he said, and today there is only one source of treated water.
Like other rural communities east of Interstate 25, Wharton said, “We often don’t get involved in regional planning. We need to make sure we’re independent.” Severance will implement its first-ever water master plan in 2023 and plans to have 2.5 million gallons of storage by 2024.
The city has had to impose restrictions on developers and builders and cut $2 million from its annual budget because of the resulting lower growth projections, he said. This drove up housing costs, which were $30,000 to $50,000 less than in larger nearby cities.
The city has more than twice the amount of water it actually needs, Wharton said. “It wasn’t the supply problem; It was the birth problem, the treatment.
“There remains an urgent need for a concerted effort at the regional level for water planning throughout northern Colorado,” Wharton said. “We have to stop thinking in big cities or small towns. We need to work together as a region to ensure everyone is working together for our water in the future.”
Eli Kolodny, partner and technical director at Odell Brewing Co., added that the reduced proportion of water available for agriculture is also putting price pressure on his product, because “beer is an agricultural product. That 7% that is left for farming has a huge impact on this industry.
“Our input, our raw materials, are strongly determined by water consumption,” he said. “This change, which has put price pressure on our raw materials, carries over to our end products. Because water is so embedded in our industry, it has an amplifying effect on our sector.
“How can we keep growing with a shrinking piece of the pie?”
Kolodny said Odell uses about 3.4 gallons of water for every gallon of beer it produces due to cleaning needs, equipment maintenance and public use, but that the brewery is developing strategies to use gray water in ways that can save it.
This article was first published by BizWest, an independent news organization, and is published under a license agreement. © 2022 BizWest Media LLC.
https://www.greeleytribune.com/2022/07/22/confluence-noco-growth-driving-water-price-hikes/ NoCo growth drives water price hikes – Greeley Tribune