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The Town of Erie is committed to providing our more than 10,350 water customers with safe, reliable, high-quality water services essential to everyday life. The Town’s primary water source is the Colorado-Big Thompson Project, which originates on the western slope. Other sources include water stored in Windy Gap and Gross Reservoirs. In emergencies, we have access to Lafayette Water and Lefthand Water.
Diverting water from the western slope to the Front Range is a very lengthy, complex, and expensive process. Water is governed in Colorado by the Prior Appropriation Doctrine – or as it’s known in shorthand, “first in time, first in right.” Older cities typically hold senior water rights and younger cities typically have junior rights; Erie is among the latter group, which means our raw water costs are often higher than some of our neighbors.
But youth has its advantages too. For instance, in Colorado and nationwide, many utilities are grappling with funding the expensive prospect of replacing aging infrastructure. Fortunately, as Erie is a younger community, our water customers enjoy the benefits of our modern, efficient infrastructure.
Your utility bill includes charges for water, wastewater, and stormwater drainage services. The rates you pay on your utility bill cover the costs to provide these services to you. These services are paid for by the revenue generated from utility billing, and these utilities receive no funding from taxes.
Under the new rates, higher users pay more, and lower users pay less because the rates more closely reflect the actual costs of service. Water is a precious and limited natural resource, and this year’s drought and wildfires underscore this issue.
In 2020, 11 percent of customer accounts consumed 21 percent of all water used!
In 2021, to promote affordability, the monthly service charge for water will be reduced from $30 to $19.36, and wastewater service charges reduced from $15.68 to $10.30.For 2021 rates, assuming the same amount of water used in 2020:
Plus, the tiered system charges users based on how much water is consumed and has been adjusted to reward those who use less.
For high users, yes, water rates (aka monthly service charges or demand charges) may increase. Overall bills are decreasing for low and average water users, and base rates for monthly service charges decrease by 35 percent.
The Town offers a number of free or discounted conservation programs that help customers use water wisely. Customers that participate in the Town’s free irrigation consultations save at least 20% on their annual water bill on average. Learn more about these programs on the water conservation webpage.
Here are a few ways to reduce water usage and associated bill increases:Indoor water usage: Discover Erie’s water efficiency rebatesOutdoor water usage: Signup for a sprinkler/irrigation consultationConsider xeriscape options, and discounted Garden in a Box starter kits
The best way to lower your water bill is to lower your water usage, especially on outdoor irrigation. Contact us, we can help!
The Town of Erie financial policies require a formal rate study be performed on the utility fund (water, wastewater, and storm drainage) charges at least every five years. This is an industry best practice to ensure costs are recovered equitably from customer payments.
The most recent study was completed by Raftelis, a nationally recognized independent financial consultant specializing in rate and fee studies for water provider clients across the country. They recommended changes to rates and charges for water and wastewater, with no changes to stormwater drainage charges.
After review, the Board of Trustees then voted to establish the new rates and charges effective in 2021. The changes are revenue-neutral, meaning that the utility fund is anticipated to receive the same amount of revenue in 2021 as it did in 2020. Still, the changes do reflect a focus on the following:
The Town is changing how we charge for water and wastewater service in 2021 to provide affordable, high quality, reliable service that rewards water efficiency. Did you know the cost of water and wastewater services are paid entirely by the rates you pay, not by taxes? Additionally, the Town can use the revenue from water and wastewater rates only for those services; in this way, the Town’s utilities operate as financially distinct “Enterprise” services. To make sure we are consistent with the enterprise approach, the Town, through a nationally-recognized independent consultant, recently reviewed how we charge for these services. Based on this review, we are adjusting rates into a new structure that balances these priorities: affordability, conservation, revenue stability, and equity.
Under the new rates, higher users pay more and lower users to pay less because the rates more closely reflect the actual costs of service. In the new design, about 60 percent of customers will pay less than they do today, and 17 percent will see an increase of less than $50 a year. Learn more about the rates and the Town’s water conservation programs at www.erie.co.gov/waterrates.
With input from the Board of Trustees and Town staff, Raftelis designed a rate structure that balances these Town priorities:
Water is a precious and limited resource in Colorado, and most utilities along the Front Range use tiered rates. Tiered water rates reward customers who use less water by charging the least amount per thousand gallons for use in the first tier, and increasingly more as customers use more water and graduate into higher levels.
The lowest rate tier corresponds to an amount of water sufficient to meet essential indoor household needs. Each subsequent tier charges a higher rate and is designed to send a price signal to households when using water for outdoor irrigation.
Your monthly utility bill has three components for water, wastewater, and storm drainage services.
Customers are charged for water service through a fixed service charge and a tiered volume charge. The fixed service charge covers billing costs and customer costs such as field service crews, meter replacement, and repair. The tiered volume charge recovers the cost to collect, treat, and distribute water, as well as fire protection. Water is charged on an actual basis and typically fluctuates each month.
Customers are charged for wastewater service through a fixed service charge determined by your average winter usage for December, January, and February. We do this because typically, all water used is used indoors in these months, so it is a reasonable estimation of your wastewater service needs. Wastewater charges are consistent month-to-month after being updated annually.
Customers are charged for stormwater drainage through a fixed monthly charge.
Changes to charges and rates are summarized in the tables below:
How we charge for water and wastewater service in 2021 will promote affordability in two key ways. First, the water monthly service charge for residential users with typical service line sizes of 5/8 inch or 3/4 inch will be reduced to $19.36 from the current fee of $30, and the wastewater service charges will be reduced from $15.68 to $10.30.
Also, the tiered system charges users based on how much water they use has been adjusted to reward those who use less.
If customers use the same amount of water in 2021 as in 2020, 60 percent of customers will pay less than they do today.
Tap fees and raw water dedication fees ensure costs that growth incurs on our water, wastewater, and stormwater systems are fully recovered. Often paid by the developer – and passed along to the new homeowner in the purchase price – these are one-time fees charged by the Town at the permitting stage.
In 2021, a 3/4 inch tap fee will increase from $5,200 to $8,860. The raw water dedication fee will increase from $15,300 to $16,243.
Yes. Monthly service charges are being reduced from $15.68 today to $10.30 in 2021. Volume rates – calculated in thousand-gallon increments based on how much water is used – will increase from $8.20 to $9.45.
Here are a few ways to reduce water usage and associated bill increases:
Indoor water usage: Discover Erie’s water efficiency rebatesOutdoor water usage: Signup for a sprinkler/irrigation consultationConsider xeriscape options, and discounted Garden in a Box starter kits
Erie encourages xeriscape. Additionally, in March 2019, Colorado HB19-1050 was updated to encourage the use of xeriscape. The bill amended sections of the Colorado Revised Statutes prohibiting restrictive covenants, rules, or regulations (ie. HOAs) that limit the installation or use of drought-tolerant vegetative landscapes and deems those covenants, rules, or regulations as contrary to public policy. Associations may adopt and enforce design, and aesthetic guidelines or rules, regulate the type, number, and placement of drought-tolerant plantings.
We are! Since 2016, the Town has been replacing residential water meters with Smart Meters that conform to all industry standards. Once installed, your new Smart Meter will give you access to your water consumption data, providing an opportunity to gain a greater understanding of and control over the water you consume on a daily, monthly, and annual basis.
The EyesOnWater customer portal stores all of your water usage in one place. View your history, discover your water trends, detect leaks, and personalize a water savings plan. Today, more than 60 percent of Erie’s meters are Smart Meters. Learn more about the EyeOnWater tool on the Smart Meter webpage.
Water meters report usage. The Town collects the usage on a rotating basis throughout the month according to the cycle billing schedule. Since 2016, the Town has been replacing residential water meters with Smart Meters that conform to all industry standards set by the American Water Works Association. Once installed, your new Smart Meter will give you access to your water consumption data, and gain a greater understanding and control of the water you consume on a daily, monthly and annual basis. The EyesOnWater customer portal stores all of your water usage in one place. View your history, discover your water trends, detect leaks, and personalize a water savings plan. Today, more than 60 percent of Erie’s meters are Smart Meters. Learn more about the EyeOnWater tool on the Smart Meter webpage.
For more information regarding cycle billing, please click here.
Customers may contact the Town’s Utility Billing team to learn more about case-by-case payment arrangements for those having difficulty paying their bills.
Also, part of the Town’s commitment to affordability is working with customers to investigate possible causes of high water usage. If you have questions or concerns, please reach out to our team anytime via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at 303-926-2700, or online via ErieSubmit.
We currently have a number of payment options available and accept cash, check, money orders and/or credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express).
Online Payments and Credit Card AutoPay: To make your payment online or set up credit card autopay, please log into your account here. Detailed instructions for setting up credit card autopay can be found here.
Automatic Payments Using a Checking Account (ACH): Please fill out the ACH Authorization form and either drop it off, mail it back, or email it to email@example.com. More information regarding ACH payments can be viewed here.
Mail or Drop Off: Please enclose the bill stub or write the service address on the check. Payments can be mailed to the Town of Erie, Finance Department, PO Box 750, Erie, CO 80516. Payments can also be dropped off at the Town Hall receptionist/cashier desk or in the black drop box at the front of the Town Hall. The Town Hall is located at 645 Holbrook Street.
We send out bills on a rotating basis throughout the month according to the cycle billing schedule. Bills are mailed approximately 1 week after the read date for each cycle. For more information regarding cycle billing, please click here.
Bills are due 1 day prior to the next read date for your cycle. For more information regarding the scheduled read dates, please click here.
The Town of Erie provides a high-quality supply of available drinking water to over 10,350 residential and commercial customers 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We continue to meet increasingly high water quality standards in a cost-effective manner for the citizens of Erie. We are proud that Erie meets and exceeds all federal and state drinking water standards. We do this while protecting the environment, community, and economic interests that we all value.
Read more about Erie’s water quality in the Consumer Confidence Report.