Trustees approve new water policy

Rudy Hemmann
The Surveyor

As promised by Town Administrator Mike Hart, Tuesday evening’s board meeting was devoted to a presentation by the town’s water attorney, Paul Zilas, during which Zilas outlined a new water policy as it relates to development in Berthoud. After hearing the presentation, and after giving careful consideration to the subject, the trustees unanimously approved an ordinance which established the town’s new water policy.

An information sheet concerning the issue states, “The town has been working with the development community to map out a long-term strategy for water resources that will protect the community while at the same time make quality development affordable in Berthoud.”

The document noted most northern front-range communities have relied on the Colorado-Big Thompson Project (C-BT) to fulfill their water needs, for many years, due to its availability; it has been a reliable source and, until recent years, the price was reasonable.

However, as the available supply (of C-BT water) dwindles and demand rises, the market prices for C-BT (water) have more than tripled in recent years. C-BT units are currently selling in excess of $25,000 and “asking” prices are in the range of $30,000 per unit. This translates to approximately $42,000 per acre foot … With the town’s current water dedication requirements (for new development) based on lot size, the average price for water per dwelling unit would be approximately $23,500.

The document also stated, “While C-BT units should continue to be accepted for water right dedication requirements, the town cannot continue to move forward with quality development solely on the dedication … of C-BT units. The current price and availability of C-BT units makes this sole source alternative an impractical solution over the long term.”

In effect, the new water policy allows the town to accept less water dedication per lot in new developments. The town currently requires .47 to .98 acre feet of water per lot, depending on size. This translates to .67 to 1.4 units of C-BT water per lot. C-BT is currently the preferred source of raw water to be dedicated for new development. One unit of C-BT water currently sells for $23,500.

Average usage per lot comes to .56 acre feet per lot or .80 C-BT units per lot. Using the .80 average to calculate the cost of C-BT water to be allocated per lot (instead of the high end of 1.4 units per lot) brings the water dedication cost down from nearly $33,000 to a more manageable $18,800 per lot.

The new policy also allows the town board and town staff to recognize a developer’s investment in a separate non-potable water system for irrigation purposes with a reduction in the amount of potable water which needs to be dedicated.

In addition, the new policy encourages the town to pursue other sources of relatively clean raw water (e.g. Windy Gap Project, Northern Integrated Supply Project) as these sources come on line.

In the only other action of the evening the trustees followed the recommendation of Town Engineer Stephanie Brothers and awarded the 2014 Street Paving Project to Coulson Excavating. Coulson was not the low bidder for the project; their bid of $266, 200 was second lowest to Asphalt Specialties, which submitted a bid of $264,763.

However, according to Brothers, upon checking the references provided by the low bidder, “Other agencies (which had chosen Asphalt Specialties) expressed concerns about poor performance on past projects done by them.”

Coulson has done several projects for the town in past years, always with good results. For those reasons Brothers recommended Coulson for the paving project even though they did not hold the low bid. The board concurred unanimously.

An information sheet provided by town staff indicates most of the pavement maintenance work will be on Welch Avenue from Third Street to 10th Street and on Bunyan Avenue from Fourth Street to approximately 10th Street. Other work to be completed is on 10th Street for approximately 350 feet either side of Welch Avenue.