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Park City water department revenue is down, thanks to conservation efforts; rates set for an increase

Spring runoff.
Parker Malatesta
Spring runoff.

Park City’s water department is losing money, a downside of increased conservation in the community.

Park City residents are using less water as awareness of the West’s megadrought grows.

The city’s water department, which relies on revenue from customers, is now facing a roughly $2 million budget shortfall due to the dip in usage.

Consultants hired by the city suggested raising rates by as much as 10% this year to make up for recent inflation.

Keith Larson with Bowen Collins & Associates said the total volume of water sold by the city has decreased 18% since 2020.

“That’s a positive… that we’re using less water, and something that should be encouraged,” Larson said. “But that also means reduced revenue in terms of maintaining the system and meeting our obligations.”

The city council balked at the proposed 10% rate increase, and instead approved a 4.5% increase. An average homeowner can expect to see a roughly $5 bump in their monthly bill.

To bring in more money, the city also plans to increase charges on the golf course and other recreation facilities for water use.

Just how much those rates will change remains under discussion but municipal facilities currently pay far less than the water they use is worth. The price for water delivered to the golf course, for example, costs about $110 per acre foot, or $0.34 per thousand gallons, per a staff report. This price structure was set in place decades ago. In 2023, the retail value of that water was about $1.1 million, yet the golf course paid around $11,000.

Park City is working with U.S. House Rep. John Curtis’ office to secure a $4 million grant for the water line replacement project on Main Street, which could bolster the department’s finances.