News Feature | July 15, 2015

When Rain Works Against Water Utilities In The West

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,
@sarmje

rain

For a water utility in Colorado, lots of rain is not necessarily a positive forecast, even as drought plagues large swaths of the region.

“Colorado Springs Utilities is facing a water paradox this spring: While water levels in the company's system are at the highest they have been in years, the abundance of spring moisture could cost Utilities millions of dollars in lost revenue,” The Gazette of Colorado Springs reported.

Rain, just like conservation, can cut into utility revenues, because customers use less water.

“In Colorado Springs, irrigation makes up between 40 percent and 50 percent of Colorado Springs Utilities' water revenue. It's currently down $17 million,” KRDO reported.

“In Pueblo, the water revenue is down about $2.5 million. The Pueblo Board of Water Works is finding other ways to make up for the loss,” the report continued.

Colorado Springs Utilities Chief Financial Officer Bill Cherrier explained that the toll on revenue means some infrastructure work may need to be postponed.

"In future years, if we're not able to keep up on all that preventative work, we would likely see more increases in main breaks, other water issues, infrastructure," he said, per KRDO.

During the rainy weather, Colorado Springs shut down some of its intermountain pumping stations, according to Abby Ortega, Water Supply Planning Supervisor for Colorado Springs Utilities.

"We're not even pumping into Rampart at this point," Ortega said, per KOAA. "We shut off on Mother’s Day weekend and have not turned Otero Pump Station back on which is very unusual for the water supply."

Despite the challenges, rain is good news for the local water supply.

"We're just starting run-off now and our reservoirs are already at about 85 percent," Ortega said, per KOAA. "We really expect to fill most of our reservoirs to operating capacity this year which is just a great situation to be in and a huge turn from where we were 2 years ago."

For similar stories, visit Water Online’s Funding Solutions Center.

Image credit: "Rain Storm Colorado Springs Colorado," David © 2008, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/