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Water in Westminster

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Water in Westminster for Generations to Come

What’s happening now:  

The City has made significant progress on the future of water in Westminster. Over the past year, under City Council’s guidance, the City reevaluated options for Westminster’s new water treatment facility to better balance the need for clean, safe, and affordable water. Here are some of the highlights of that work: 

  • November 29, 2021 – City Council directed staff to stop work on the original plans for Westminster’s proposed new water treatment facility on Westminster Boulevard. They directed staff and consultants to review the need for a new treatment facility and provide robust background information. 

  • January 2022 – City Council hosted a roundtable on the topic of water treatment. Members of the panel included former city managers, a former water treatment plant superintendent, and water treatment officials from neighboring cities. 

  • January 2022 – City Council requested staff to reevaluate options for the new water treatment facility and respond to three  questions (noting that “Semper” refers to the City’s existing but aging water treatment facility built in 1969): 

    • What is the least cost to address the greatest number of deficiencies at the Semper plant? What are the associated risks with this approach? 

    • What can be done for a mid-cost replacement water treatment facility on Semper and in/around the Semper site? What are the associated risks with this approach? 

    • What does the comparison between questions 1 and 2 and the anticipated facility on the Westminster Boulevard site look like? What are the costs, benefits and risks? 

  • February – November 2022 – Over the next 10 months, City Council engaged with staff to answer these questions and chart a new path forward, including establishing evaluation criteria, reviewing costs, and evaluating options for a new water treatment facility. The strongest option that emerged from this work is based on a complete reimagining of the water utility itself, resulting in an option to build a right-sized facility on the originally proposed site at a cost savings of up to $100 million from the original proposal. 

  • February 2023

    • Councillor’s Bill No. 2, Ordinance No.4175 is passed 

      • City Council has taken a significant step by acquiring land on a 40-acre site on the east side of Westminster Boulevard north of 98th Avenue for the new, right-sized water treatment facility. The proposed water treatment facility is estimated to cost $196 million in current dollars, and will provide additional treatment processes to respond to wildfire contamination and provide flexibility to respond to future state and federal clean water regulations. 

    • What does this approval mean?   

      • With the acquisition of the land on Westminster Boulevard, the next step is to move forward with the design of the new water treatment facility. Staff will be working on this, and coming back to City Council in public meeting with associated approvals to move the project forward.  


Where are we now?  

The right-sized water treatment facility on Westminster Boulevard and the associated infrastructure follows a nearly yearlong reevaluation of the original water treatment plant project with an inflation-adjusted cost of over $300 million. With up to $100 million of potential cost savings, the new right-sized project will ensure the community continues to have clean, safe, and affordable drinking water for generations to come. The water rate structure approved by City Council in 2022 incorporates the necessary funding for the right-sized water treatment plant option.   


What does a new treatment plant mean for my water rates?  

City Council incorporated the cost of the new water treatment plant when it approved the historic rate reductions last year. In order to provide immediate relief to rate payers, City Council adopted lower rates within the current three-tiered structure and increased the volumes allotted within each of those tiers in 2022. This significant rate reduction followed previous 10% water rate increases in both 2019 and 2020.  

City Council directed staff to better balance the need to maintain affordable water rates, while maintaining the City’s water system and ensuring the financial health of the water utility into the future.    

After extensive financial modeling, City Council adopted a 4.0% rate increase for 2023 and a proposed 4.5% rate increase to balance the water model for 10 years. These moderate rate increases over time support the defined 2023-2027 Capital Improvement Program including the right-sized water treatment plant while ensuring clean, safe, and affordable water for generations to come. 


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