A clean, safe and reliable water source is vital to our health and prosperity. It makes Longmont a place we all want to call home.
Vote Yes On 2J
As Longmont continues to grow and thrive, we need future water security
Issue 2J on the Longmont 2017 Ballot is a question to approve a bond in the amount of $36.3 million to secure 10,000 acre feet of water storage in the Windy Gap Firming Project (1/9 of the overall volume).
Longmont needs to increase our water supply to meet future demand. Additionally, diversifying our water supply adds to our resiliency in drought years and helps to ensure we always have high-quality water available. To date, the city has invested $5.1 million into this critical water infrastructure project.
Currently, the City Council approved water rate increase in Longmont is set at 9% per year through 2019. The average monthly bill in 2019, assuming 9,000 gallons of use per month, is $33.09 - that's the lowest of any neighboring water provider.
If 2J passes, the impact to Longmont citizen water bills will be:
That is just over 2 dollars more per month!
Even with the proposed rate increases including for Windy Gap Firming storage at 10,000ac-ft, Longmont will continue to have lower rates than most water providers in the region, even if these other providers do not raise rates in the next two years.
AVG. MONTHLY BILL W/O 2J
% INCREASE W/ 2J
AVG. MONTHLY BILL W/ 2J
WHAT IS ISSUE 2J?
ISSUE 2J BALLOT QUESTION:
Shall City of Longmont debt be increased in an amount not to exceed $36,300,000 for the purpose of financing water system improvements, including but not limited to the construction of water storage reservoir as part of the Windy Gap Firming Project at a participation level not to exceed 10,000 acre-feet; and shall the debt be evidenced by bonds, loan agreements, or other financial obligations payable solely from the City’s water utility enterprise revenues and be issued at one time or in a series at a price above, below or equal to the principal amount of such debt and with such terms and conditions, including provisions for redemption prior to maturity with or without payment of premium, as the City Council may determine?
HOW DOES THIS IMPACT ME?
You can also learn more about this project by visiting www.NorthernWater.org
ABOUT THE WINDY GAP FIRMING PROJECT
The Windy Gap Firming Project is a coordinated effort with other communities and water districts to build a 90,000 acre-foot, raw water storage reservoir west of Carter Lake. Longmont owns the right to Windy Gap water, but we do not have enough storage capacity to hold it.
Water supply in Colorado can be highly vulnerable. Our participation in the construction of the Windy Gap Firming project will ensure we can reliably meet the water needs of our community today – and in the future.
Click on the map to read more about the project.
Boulder County Clerk & Recorder/ St. Vrain Community Hub: Corner of 6th Avenue and Coffman
Boulder County Fairgrounds: 9595 Nelson Road (on Fairground Lane near the south parking lot)
Garden Acres Park: 18th Avenue between Sunset and Juniper in Longmont
Longmont YMCA: 950 Lashley Street
Located at 515 Coffman Street Hours:
8 a.m. – 6 p.m. Mon, Oct 30 – Fri, Nov 3
9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Sat, Nov 4
8 a.m. – 6 p.m. Mon, Nov 6
7 a.m. – 7 p.m. Tue, Nov 7 – Election Day
Brian J. Bagley: Opposing the Windy Gap Firming Project puts Longmont at risk
By John Caldwell
POSTED: 09/05/2017 11:20:41 AM MDT | UPDATED: ABOUT A MONTH AGO
I am writing to clarify the discussion about the 6,000 acre-foot versus the 10,000 acre-foot participation in the Chimney Hollow water storage project. There is agreement between the Longmont staff and Water Board on the projected future water demand however the Water Board differs on the supply side of the equation. When the supply-demand study was done approximately five years ago, there was exchanged (rented) water, which the city of Longmont does not own, included in the supply side of the equation.
Your Longmont Water board in reviewing this situation is concerned that there is a very real risk that, since the city does not own or have control of this water, this currently very favorable arrangement could end and the supply would no longer be available. Therefore it is a risk analysis which the Water Board came down on the more conservative side. Furthermore in the past five years since the study was conduct the risks have increased. The price of "Big T" water, which comprises this exchanged/non owned water, has increase dramatically and the price spread between Big T water and other water rights has increased.
Your citizens advisory boards have the responsibility to give their best input to your Longmont City Council whether or not it agrees with staff and consultants. I believe Longmont has an excellent staff particularly in the water department. We have a difference of opinion on the long-term risks involving our water supply regarding whether the non-owned water should be considered as permanent water supply.
Furthermore there are a few other options for water supply in the future if necessary but they will be more expensive and face the many risks and uncertainties that the current project has taken more than a decade to overcome. The Chimney Hollow is the least cost solution and is "bird in the hand."
I hope this explains that this is honest difference of opinion of risk and not some nefarious scheme or speculative adventure as some have either unknowingly or thoughtlessly alleged. By the way although the percentage increase in water rates gets one's attention, with the increase in rates Longmont will still have one of the lowest water rates in the area.
John Caldwell: Chimney Hollow is the 'bird in the hand'
IN THE NEWS
Jeff Moore: Vote yes on Windy Gap Ballot Question 2J
By Jeff Moore
POSTED: 09/11/2017 11:07:23 PM MDT |
The Windy Gap November ballot issue will ask voters to decide whether they support the City Council's decision to approve building storage for Longmont at Chimney Hollow Reservoir for 10,000 acre feet recommended by the Longmont Water Advisory Board versus the 6,000 acre feet recommendation by city staff.
Advocates for 6,000 acre feet are expressing concerns about rate increases of 13 percent in 2018 and 10 percent in 2019. They are failing to recognize that rate increases of 9 percent in both years are already programmed, which equates to additional increases of 4 percent and 1 percent respectively. This increase is only on the gallons consumed, not the whole bill. Speaking in dollars versus percentages, the real amount of the monthly increase for the average residential customer is $1.32 for 2018 and $2.12 in 2019. I understand these rate increases will impact budgets of some residents more than others. However, this is a onetime opportunity to secure additional water resources at the lowest cost.
As council liaison to the Longmont Water Advisory Board, I have listened to many discussions among experts who deal with water issues throughout Colorado, and I understand why the water board's recommendation of 10,000 acre feet was made. There are many reasons why I support their recommendation.
Having sufficient Windy Gap water storage is lower risk than not having enough water. The greater risk is that additional water infrastructure will need to be developed at significantly higher cost to taxpayers. Surface water available for increasing water supplies will need additional new infrastructure, requiring more rate increases at higher cost. Windy Gap water is of very high quality and can be delivered to our existing treatment facilities without additional treatment.
The 6,000 acre feet staff recommendation assumes the availability of 3,000 to 5,000 acre feet of high quality water "traded" under an existing exchange contract with Public Service Company for an equal amount of lower-quality water Longmont owns rights to. That contract can be canceled with 15 years notice. Since we don't own this higher-quality water, losing access to it could leave Longmont short of our needs and would require using surface water, a lower-quality, more expensive alternative, for our water supply.
If we take only 6,000 of the 10,000 acre feet available, the difference of 4,000 acre feet will be taken by another participant. Longmont should have control of that 4,000 acre feet rather than another entity, who could use it for fracking. A way to prevent future city councils from leasing this water to others for use in fracking could be via an amendment to the city charter.
With climate change as another factor, there is no guarantee that precipitation and snow melt patterns will follow historic models. Longmont's native basin water flows are on the Front Range. If precipitation shifts to the Western Slope, or snow melts too rapidly, Longmont could be vulnerable to shortages in times where native basin water is in low supply.
Water estimates are based on assumptions, and are only valid if the assumptions are correct. There are too many uncertainties to project with accuracy what the city's needs will be in the future. There have been and will be too many unpredictable disruptions in weather and population to assume that projections will not change.
Those who argue that we should base our decision on the 6,000 acre feet recommended by staff are not looking at this issue with an objective lens. That 2012 study has not been updated with new information from the last 5 years. The additional storage provided at the 10,000 acre feet participation rate secures redundancy of our water resources and gives us resiliency against natural and manmade disasters.
There are valid reasons to fund this project via bonds rather than a cash payment. Since bond payments continue for 20 years, new residents will help pay for this project. As long there is a bond payment, the Windy Gap Surcharge will continue. This surcharge is placed on new development to offset the cost of new water infrastructure. We lose both sources of revenue if we only firm 6,000 acre feet.
Firming 10,000 acre feet is the forward-looking decision for Longmont's future.
By Brian J. Bagley
POSTED: 09/11/2017 11:06:49 PM MDT |
It's campaign season in Longmont. Water is a major campaign issue, and voters should make informed decisions on bonds and candidates in light of relevant facts. I back the proposal that assures our water future for less than $2 per household per month.
Longmont's utility services are the envy of our neighbors. Our rates are among the lowest in Colorado because previous generations developed an independent electric utility and acquired water rights sufficient for Longmont's needs. Once again, we must be forward thinking as we consider the Windy Gap Firming Project.
A collaborative effort among 11 Northeastern Colorado water providers and the Platte River Power Authority, Windy Gap was proposed in 1967 by several cities, including Longmont. Completed in 1985 and located on the West Slope near Granby, Windy Gap consists of a diversion dam on the Colorado River, a pump plant, and a 6-mile pipeline to Lake Granby, the largest storage reservoir in the Colorado-Big Thompson Project system. Longmont gets Windy Gap water via Lake Granby.
During wet periods when Lake Granby is full, there is an absence of reservoir storage for Windy Gap's water. The firming project would construct a new storage reservoir for water at Chimney Hollow near Carter Lake; Chimney Hollow Reservoir would meet Longmont's storage space needs and let water flow from Windy Gap to Chimney Hollow, thence to Longmont.
Longmont's current water supply is approximately 30,000 acre feet of water; we have a place to store this water and it's available whenever Longmont needs it. However, once Longmont reaches buildout, and vacant commercial and industrial sites are developed, city staff anticipates needing 32,750 total acre feet.
Recently, City Council debated firming 8,000, 10,000, or 12,000 acre feet of water storage (we already own the water, but we need a place to store it). Some argue that 6,000 acre feet of storage is sufficient. Note that 6,000 acre feet equates to only 2,400 reliable acre feet because of Windy Gap's variable diversion yields and its junior status on the Colorado River. Even 10,000 acre feet results in a reliable yield of just 4,000 acre feet.
Proponents of 6,000 acre feet make a problematic assumption — to wit, that Xcel Energy will continue to provide us with 1,750 to 2,500 of reliable acre feet. They also contend, incorrectly, that excess over 6,000 acre feet will result in unreasonable rate hikes and that excess water will be sold for purposes inimical to Longmont (e.g., fracking and unwanted growth). Once the details are clear, there should be no indecision on Windy Gap or its firming project.
Xcel Energy is not bound eternally to trade us its water. Currently, Xcel swaps its clean water in exchange for Longmont's dirty water. If the Xcel exchange ends, Longmont would still have approximately 30,000 acre feet of water, but to make use of the water, Longmont must construct a pump-back pipeline at Union Reservoir to move the city-owned "dirty" water back into the city for potable treatment or irrigation. And while Longmont will acquire some water from properties that tender their historic water rights upon annexation, and from developers who satisfy remaining water deficits, there is no guaranteed surplus of water; the overall water supply in the western United States (i.e., the Great American Desert) is, and will remain, uncertain.
The Windy Gap Firming Project — and its 10,000 acre feet of storage space — will allow us to build a reservoir to hold water that Longmont has already spent $56 million to obtain. Firming up an acre foot in this manner costs approximately $11,750 per acre foot. If Xcel Energy fails us, then, purchasing an acre foot of water would cost approximately $40,000. Other options would prove even more costly (e.g., expanding Union Reservoir or pumping the water back up to our water treatment facility near Lyons).
True, the Windy Gap Firming Project will cost money to complete, and this means increasing water rates (by $2), but it is still the cheapest way to meet Longmont's water needs. With climate change, our current reliance on Xcel Energy, and the higher-priced alternatives, 10,000 acre feet is what Longmont needs.
By Eric Wallace
POSTED: 10/16/2017 10:51:57 PM MDT |
The upcoming election on a bond issue regarding water storage (Ballot Question 2J) caused me to consider where I stand on the issue and to reflect on how water planning by our forefathers impacts Longmont today.
In 1993, Dick Doore and I had a dream to build a brewery somewhere along the northern Front Range. We considered sites throughout Jefferson, Boulder, Larimer and Weld counties. We were looking for reasonably priced real estate, effective and supportive local government and reliable, high quality water. We found all that in Longmont.
Our forefathers were very wise to secure significant water rights as Longmont grew from primarily an agricultural town into a more diversified and vibrant community. Without the foresight and determination to provide this fundamental resource on the edge of the great American desert, Longmont would have been either stifled in the growth it has experienced over the decades, or we'd be paying a lot more for our water today. Left Hand Brewing Company would also have likely chosen to build our brewery somewhere else without a sufficient, high quality water supply.
Ballot Question 2J is an investment in our community's and our grandchildren's future. Pay some now or a lot more later.