Keeping up with replacement and maintenance of aging infrastructure continues to be the largest expense item for most water and wastewater utilities across the country. As the oldest municipal water system in Colorado, the Parkville Water District system is the poster child of aging infrastructure. Many of the water mains in the older parts of Leadville are over 100 years old, and Parkville’s three reservoirs date back to 1890.
With the 2019 budget ending in the red, and faced with ever-increasing operation and maintenance expenses, the Parkville Board of Directors and management decided to adopt a new rate and fee schedule that includes a 16% increase in the monthly base rate and a 51% increase in the water tap fee, or the “Plant Investment Fee” as it will now be known.
A recent projection of revenue, expenses and cash flow over the next twenty years indicated the need for a substantial rate increase in order to be able to keep up with operation and maintenance expenses while funding a seemingly never-ending list of critical capital expenditures.
A tap fee is one way to ensure future developments pay their own way, instead of placing the burden of capacity expansion onto existing customers. Parkville’s tap fees haven’t been increased since 2007, and have lagged behind other tap fees around the state. Even with the tap fee increase, Parkville’s tap fee will still be below the state average of $12,400.
Parkville is currently in the middle of a $2 million upgrade to the 35-year-old water treatment plant on E. Seventh St. that supplies water for most of Leadville and the surrounding subdivisions. Most of the major equipment in the plant is obsolete, unreliable and difficult to replace.
When the project is finished this spring, it will essentially be a new water-treatment plant inside the pre-existing building. Another major benefit of the project will be the addition of an emergency backup generator to provide reliable power in the event of an electrical outage.
Plans are also underway to expand the existing treatment plant building in 2021 to allow for the addition of another filter that will add another 1.2 million gallons of water per day capacity. The additional filter would add operational flexibility, and allow extra time for maintenance in the event of an equipment failure.