Denver Water could face $24.7M shortfall as water use drops |

Denver Water could face $24.7M shortfall as water use drops

DENVER – The state’s largest water utility could face a shortfall of up to $24.7 million this year as customers continue to reduce their water use because of the drought.Denver Water, which serves 1.2 million customers, had forecast water sales in 2005 at $169.5 million dollars, about 11 percent below normal.But customers are using even less water, leaving officials to prepare for water sales of $144.8 million, said Greg Fisher, Denver Water’s chief planner. The agency’s 2005 budget is about $240.4 million.The utility says it may have to raise rates this spring to offset the loss. This marks the fourth year Denver Water has scrambled to keep its finances on track because of customers’ willingness to conserve.In four years, the utility has cut costs, tapped reserves and raised rates by 16.5 percent. The agency also has delayed construction projects and restructured debt to deal with reduced revenue.”We’ve done all the financial tricks at this point, said David LaFrance, Denver Water’s director of finance. “We might need rate increases beyond what we imagined. Post-drought, we live in a different world.”Beginning in 2002, when the drought first hit Denver, the agency launched conservation programs, including offering rebates for water-saving appliances, imposing strict watering rules and charging penalties for excessive water use.

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