The city of Durango wants residents to take on $4 million in debt to buy water from the Animas-La Plata Project as a backup supply and to prepare for future growth.
The proposal will be put to voters Nov. 1 as Ballot Issue 2A.
As it stands, the city can store 60 million gallons of water (180 acre-feet) a seven-day supply. In peak season, daily use is 9.5 million gallons, counting irrigation.
The purchase of 3,800 acre-feet from the A-LP, as its known, would make 1,900 acre-feet available for consumption.
Only half of any A-LP water may be used annually. The other half must remain in Lake Nighthorse, the reservoir southwest of Durango.
An acre-foot of water would cover a football field to the depth of one foot.
About 680 million gallons of water would be available by the addition of the 1,900 acre-feet.
The cost of 3,800 acre-feet is about $6.2 million. The city has paid $1 million and has $1.2 million available from a surplus in its water fund. The $4 million balance would be borrowed.
Durango paid the $1 million in 2005 in anticipation of buying A-LP water, city Director of Public Works Jack Rogers said Friday. It was cheaper to install the needed plumbing at the A-LP pumping plant while it was being built than retrofitting, he said.
If the city can borrow from the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority, the rate would be 1.95 percent for 20 years, a total cost of almost $5 million.
Debt service would be funded from water rates and plant investment fees (charged to new development).
Homeowners pay from $2.12 to $2.78 per 1,000 gallons depending on consumption. No increase in water rates is planned for 2012.
The development fee has been in place since the 1970s and was last increased in 2007 to $5,582 for a single-family tap.
The citys general fund would not bear any of the cost.