ENGLEWOOD — Starting in 2007 water use has fallen off in the city of Englewood. According to City Manager Eric Smith, people are starting to conserve so much water that the city is pumping far less.
“The bad news is, because we are pumping much less water we aren’t receiving the same revenue that we have in the past for not only water bills but sewer bills as well,” Smith noted. “The sewer bill is based on the amount of water that you use. I was quite surprised at the difference, so I wanted to share that with you so as we proceed with improvements to both the water and waste water systems we will have to take into consideration the amount of revenue that we are generating.”
Smith said the revenue seems to have reached a plateau. The figures presented to council included a percentage of water wasted. It is based on the amount of water pumped by the city versus what is actually billed. In 2007 almost 21.5 percent of the water pumped was not accounted for.
“Wasted might not be the proper term,” Smith said. “When you think about water usage that is not accounted for, for example the water feature in Centennial Park – none of that is accounted for because nobody is being billed for it. The fire department has training exercises or if there is a fire, or leaks in the system, or usage at public facilities, we don’t charge ourselves obviously, so that is what the amount of unaccounted water is.”
He explained that when the city installed new water meters almost 10 years ago it made a huge difference. When residents got a huge water bill they would want to blame it on the water meter, but according to Smith when a water meter goes bad it slows down and would produce a lower water bill.
After the new meters were installed usage started to drop off in 2009 but has increased slightly in recent years. Smith said there is no magic way to determine why that has occurred.
“It is well within standard. In fact, we are below what most communities suffer in terms of pumpage versus billable,” Smith said.
Councilmember Cathy McGrail asked if the decrease in usage could be due in part to lower flush toilets. Smith said that was a good point.
“New plumbing standards for shower heads, sinks and toilets… all that we think contributes to lower usage,” Smith stated.