Durango Asks Voters to Buy Water

On November 1st, Durango voters will be asked to approve $4 million in debt to allow the City of Durango to purchase 3,800 acre-feet (AF) of annual water supply from the Animas-La Plata Project (ALP). Some of this water may be stored in Lake Nighthorse, and some will be available through direct pumping from the Animas River to the City's existing water treatment plant. 

The current active available water storage for the City of Durango is 60 million gallons.  With an average daily use in peak season of 9.5 million gallons (including irrigation water), the City can currently store enough water to support their summer water needs for seven days. With the purchase of an additional 3,800 AF of water from the ALP, some of which will be stored in Lake Nighthorse, the City will have an additional 700 million gallons of storage available, enough to support the City's water needs for an additional 75 days. 

According to Jack Roger’s, City Director of Public Works, “If we don’t buy ALP water now, it may not be available when we do need it. As a water planner I need to plan for the future.”  

The total cost of a 3,800 AF share in water from the ALP is approximately $6.2 million. The City of Durango has already paid approximately $1 million and has another $1.2 million available for payment from unexpended surplus in the City's water fund. The remaining $4 million will need to be borrowed. 

The City can borrow money from the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority (CWRPDA), a state agency established to promote water and power development in Colorado.  If approved, the City will be able to borrow from CWRPDA at an interest rate of 1.95% for a 20-year term. The total repayment of the debt over 20 years would be approximately $4,990,000.  Repayment of the debt would come from City water rates and charges to new developments.  General fund tax revenues cannot be used to repay the debt. 

No rate increases are planned for 2012 to support repayment of the debt.  Revenues from current rates and developer fees are sufficient to repay the debt service.  Future rate increases may be necessary to support additional water system improvements. For additional information visit the City’s website at www.durangogov.org.