Vail, upper valley water rates are increasing this year
Higher rates will help pay for upgrades to wastewater plants and aging infrastructure
VAIL — Average rates or water and sewer service in Vail will top $100 per month starting in 2022. Those rate increases have begun this year.
Eagle River Water and Sanitation District Director Linn Brooks recently updated the Vail Town Council about the rate increases, and the reasons for them.
The primary reason is new regulations regarding wastewater discharge. Those regulations will require significant upgrades at all three of the district’s wastewater plants over the next several years.
Because the district is the only one in the state with three wastewater plants, regulators set a 15-year schedule to get the work done.
That work starts this year with a three-year, $61 million project at the Avon wastewater treatment plant. That project, along with those in Vail and Avon, are complicated by the fact that all those plants need to continue operating while the work is being done.
In addition to the wastewater plant upgrades, the district also needs to speed up the replacement of pipes and other infrastructure.
Some of that infrastructure is “over 50 years old,” Brooks said. In November of 2019, an emergency water main repair in Intermountain knocked out 62 homes for a night, Brooks added.
The district, along with the Upper Eagle River Water Authority, will issue revenue bonds to pay for the work. Paying for those bonds will require users to pay more.
In Vail, the average increase in 2020 is 11.1% for water service and 7.4% for wastewater service.
In the rest of the district’s service area, the average increase is 8.8% for water and 7.4% for wastewater.
Even with the increases, the district’s average rates are about in the middle of the pack, by comparison, among similar communities.
Looking nationally, Brooks said the district is “close to average” on costs for water, and “quite a bit lower” on the wastewater side.
The 2020 rate increases are only the beginning of raises in rates. Brooks said increases will average 8 to 10% “over the next few years.”
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 970-748-2930.