Switch to City Ditch water will save money

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Littleton will save about $34,000 a year on water after it converts the irrigation of Geneva Park/Littleton Center complex to non-potable water that will come out of City Ditch.

Denver Water is paying $400,000 of the $575,000 project as part of its 2011 agreement that released it from providing service to areas that Littleton might annex in the future. The deal happened amid talks with Sterling Ranch about possible annexation. Denver Water paid an additional $2.1 million in the controversial deal, which critics said effectively killed Littleton’s ability to grow.

“We sold that for a song,” said Councilor Jim Taylor before joining the rest of council, with the exception of Councilor Bruce Beckman, in approving the additional $175,000 needed for the project.

According to Charlie Blosten, the city’s public works director, the new system will take advantage of City Ditch water the city has been paying for but not using. Staff estimates it will save 5.8 million gallons of water a year, a natural resource that has increased in price 247 percent in the last 10 years. At the current price of $5.88 per thousand gallons, it will take about five years to make up the city’s share.

“We’re getting the environmental benefit immediately, and we’ll start having a good turn after we recoup the cost,” noted Councilor Peggy Cole.

The $400,000 would have covered the original estimate in 2010, but when bids were opened on Jan. 22, the “lowest and best” bid was $497,029. Design costs and other expenses took it up to $575,000.

The system will include a pump house, wet well, filters, pumps and the irrigation framework itself. In addition to Geneva Lake and the Littleton Center, it will water the medians on Berry Street and the landscaped area on the east side of Rio Grande from Slaughterhouse Gulch to Main Street.

“There are no efficient ways to reduce the size of the project to lower the cost,” reads the staff report.

Construction is expected to start this spring and be done by early summer.