Water agreement nets Summit County $1M in affordable housing credits
In a renewed water agreement with the Upper Blue Sanitation District, Summit County will receive $1 million in credits to help with workforce housing projects in the area. The funds would help the county with a planned housing project near County Road 450, a 1.71-acre plot of land that will be integrated into the town of Breckenridge to create 26 affordable housing units.
“The credits they are proposing really do help with the county’s, the town’s and others’ efforts for workforce housing,” said Summit County manager Gary Martinez.
He said the credits would cover about $660,000 in sewer tap fees for the proposed CR450 project.
The million came as a result of the finalization of an ongoing water agreement between the county and the sanitation district dating back to 1992. That year, an agreement was formed to allow the sanitation district to divert flows from Blue River for the Farmer’s Korner Sanitation Plant.
The agreement was settled in 1996, but Summit and Breckenridge could reopen the case if the plant ever moved the location where water usage is measured, potentially compromising county water rights in other agreements.
The verdict of a separate water rights cases involving Summit County, the district, the town of Breckenridge and the Colorado Water Conservation Board eliminated any chance that this “point of administration” would be moved in the future. This allowed the Upper Blue Sanitation District and the county to resolve the 1992 case for good, with Summit agreeing not to open that case in the future, and prompting the sanitation district to give the county $1 million in credits toward sewer tap fees.
“This agreement is a big win for both the district and the county,” Upper Blue Sanitation District manager Andrew Carlberg said in a statement. “We gain a great deal of certainty in regard to our water rights, which means we’re not having to set aside nearly as much funding for future capital projects. And that translates to lower-cost sewer service in the long run.”
The sanitation district is restricted from becoming directly involved with public projects, such as workforce housing, but it can exchange fees for services of equal value, as seen in this case. Martinez said the agreement would likely provide enough funds to help cover tap fees for multiple housing projects.
“Water-rights negotiations are some of the most complicated and drawn-out processes that governmental entities deal with in the West,” Martinez said in a statement. “But, in this case, they resulted in a very tangible boost to our workforce housing efforts.”
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