FACT CHECK: Does the city have enough water to serve West Steamboat Neighborhoods?
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 3 p.m. April 30 to include a supplemental document to the water demand report, which can be found at the bottom of the story.
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — According to the city of Steamboat Springs, existing water sources will be able to meet the needs of additional development on open lots within the city and the addition of West Steamboat Neighborhoods.
If the city’s western border pushes beyond the boundary of the West Steamboat Neighborhoods annexation, there will be a need for more water.
“The city is confident, based upon volumes of analysis, that it has adequate water supply to provide West Steamboat Neighborhoods, even in dry years,” city Water Resources Manager Kelly Romero-Heaney said.
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According to Colorado State University, a 4- to 5-person household uses about half an acre-foot of water per year. An acre-foot is about as much water as it would take to cover a football field, excluding the end zones, in one foot of water.
According to a water demand study conducted by the developers, at full build-out, homes in the neighborhood will require a total of 203.9 acre-feet of additional water.
The addition of a school and commercial developments increase this demand to 255.3 acre-feet, Romero-Heaney said.
A draft report of this demand study was included in Steamboat Springs City Council’s Feb. 14, 2017, agenda packet.
Between 2006 and 2017, the city of Steamboat Springs used an average of 1,344 acre-feet each year, according to Romero-Heaney.
In 2012, one of the driest years on record in the Yampa River Basin, according to the Natural Resource Conservation Service, about 7,800 acre-feet of water was available to the city from Fish Creek, Romero-Heaney said. The Yampa River added another 2,000 acre-feet.
She estimated that 93% of the water the city uses comes from Fish Creek, with the remaining 7% coming from the Yampa River. The city is working to expand its Yampa River water intake to provide an additional water source should Fish Creek become unusable.
Funding additional water infrastructure
Before the first home is built, West Steamboat Neighborhoods will be required to do the following under the annexation agreement:
- Pay $292,000 to a newly established water-firming fund to pay for additional water infrastructure
- Install a “water distribution system” either by extending a water main along U.S. Highway 40 that currently ends near Snow Bowl Plaza, by connecting to and extending from water lines in the neighboring Overlook Park development or by building a storage tank in the development
- Install pressure-relief valves and boosters
Brynn Grey will be required to pay $15,000 to the water-firming fund upon the closing of each market-rate home. There will be an additional $11,200 payment to the fund on closing when selling homes with secondary units. This amount will be adjusted for inflation according to the Engineering News-Record Construction Cost Index.
This payment is in addition to standard tap fees Brynn Grey will pay when it receives a building permit for each home. Water tap fees equate to about $6,800 for a 1,500-square-foot, two-bath, single-family home.
The developer’s total contribution to the water-firming fund is expected to be more than $4.67 million at full build-out, according to the city.
The water-firming fund would be used to eventually build an additional water-treatment plant and purchase additional water rights, which would be necessary should the city annex land beyond West Steamboat Neighborhoods, Romero-Heaney said.
The city also will build a new water tank on the west side of town within two years of the proposed annexation agreement taking effect. In 2018, the city budgeted $3.82 million for the project.
This story is part of the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s ongoing Fact Check series, which is intended to answer readers’ questions about the proposed West Steamboat Neighborhoods annexation. This series will be published with other annexation coverage at SteamboatPilot.com/news/annexation. If you have a question you’d like to see answered in Fact Check, email reporter Eleanor Hasenbeck at ehasenbeck@SteamboatPilot.com.
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