Menu
Weather Report
xERISCAPING IN CASTLE PINES NORTH

A good landscape and garden begins with a good design. To learn how Xeriscaping can enhance your home and save you money on your water bill, read The 7 Principles of Xeriscape. You will also find information on water saving Bluegrass alternatives in this document.

Although the Front Range presents a special set of challenges for growing trees, the desire to have a large shade tree in your yard can be a reality. Learn more about caring for your trees in Castle Pines North.

Want to know the proper way to plant trees and shrubs? Our Tree and Shrub Planting Guidelines can get your plants off to the right start.

Click the graphic below for CPNMD's full color guide to Xeriscape Plants:

FAQs

GENERAL

Who do I call with questions about water, waste water, storm water and parks, open space and trails?

Castle Pines North Metropolitan District provides these services to the residents and businesses located in the Castle Pines North community. To contact CPNMD by phone, please call 303-688-8550. Or visit our website www.cpnmd.org.

WATER BILLS, RATES AND FEES

What are my options for paying my water bill?

  1. Pay online with a VISA or Mastercard credit or debit card:
    Pay Online Now
  2. Use the bill stub and mail your check to the remittance address shown on the invoice:
    Castle Pines North Metro District
    P.O. Box 5067 
    Denver, CO 80217
  3. Sign up for automatic bank draft. Payment will be deducted automatically from your checking or savings account. You will receive  a copy of your bill each month for your records. Sign up using the ACH application form.
  4. Drop your payment off at our office at 7404 Yorkshire Drive on the NE corner of Castle Pines Parkway and Yorkshire Drive. For your  convenience, a secure after-hours drop box is located outside of the office door.
  5. Call 303-688-8550 to make a credit card payment over the phone with one of our customer service representatives.

What are the line items for on my water bill?

  • WATER CHARGE: Pays for actual water used and also pays for maintenance of more than 60 miles of water lines, and electricity for pumping of District- owned wells and water treatment.
  • CUSTOMER CHARGE - WATER: Applies to the District's day-to-day water-related operations, including, but not limited to: (a) transporting the District's seasonal renewable water through Centennial Water and Sanitation District's water treatment plant to our District's pump station and water distribution system, (b) maintaining and repairing water infrastructure (e.g., water treatment plant, ten groundwater wells and associated pumps), (c) paying for the electricity required to operate the District's renewable water pump station, groundwater well pumps, booster pumps, and the water treatment plant, (d) adjudicating and monitoring the District's water rights, (e) water quality monitoring and testing, (f) funding the water rebate program, and (g) staff.
  • CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT FEE - WATER: Applies to construction and/or acquisition of water-related infrastructure including, but not limited to: (a) the ICPP pump station & pipeline, (b) groundwater well replacement, (c) Chatfield Expansion & Reallocation Project, (d) water rights, and (e) future renewable water infrastructure.
  • WASTEWATER CHARGE: Pays for wastewater treatment at Plum Creek Water Reclamation Authority facility, electricity for nine wastewater lift systems, and the operation and maintenance costs for our wastewater collection system that consists of 7.5 miles of pipeline. Charges are based on average winter water consumption.
  • CUSTOMER CHARGE - WASTEWATER: Applies to the District's day-to-day wastewater-related operations, including, but not limited to lift station and sewage treatment operations.
  • STORM DRAINAGE CHARGE: Applies to the District's storm water operations and infrastructure maintenance and repair.

On my water bill there is a line for Water Budget Information. What is my budget based on?

All CPNMD residential water customers have individualized water budgets, or allotments, that are based on a number of factors, including lot size. During the irrigation season, April through October, your monthly budget will vary depending on these factors, which take into account historical anticipated rainfall amounts. The budget is designed to cover both indoor water use and irrigation. During the winter, all residents are allotted a budget of 5,000 gallons per month for indoor use.

Your budget determines the rate at which your water use is charged. Residents who stay within their budget are charged at the lowest rate per thousand gallons, or what we refer to as Tier 1. As you exceed your budget, the rate per thousand gallons increases through Tiers 2, 3, and 4. Water budgets are one of the means by which the District hopes to encourage conservation. Simply put, the more you use, the more you pay.

Each month, your bill shows your budget for that month and how your actual usage compares to that budget. There is also a notation of the next month’s budget so that you can plan your water use accordingly. You are only charged for the gallons you use.

Why are rates and fees so high?

Our rates and fees here at CPNMD, and for most water providers across the front range, consist of two components: monthly base fees and consumption charges. Base fees cover the cost of providing water service. Consumption charges are calculated from how much water you use. The base fee is not a minimum use charge, but a flat rate charged to every rate payer. It includes all the shared costs for bringing water to a community – pipes, pump stations, water storage, water treatment repairs and several other items related to water delivery.

If a customer were to use zero water during a given month, they would still have to pay the base fee to ensure the service is available. If you use water, then you pay an additional amount for the water consumed. At CPNMD we categorize water usage into Tiers.

Consumption up to 5,000 gallons in a non-irrigation month (November through March) is defined by CPNMD as Tier 1, which equates to the lowest charge per 1,000 gallons. For months during the irrigation season (April through October), Tier 1 is determined by a combination of irrigation factors, the most significant of which is a customer’s lot size. As customers exceed their Tier 1 usage “budget,” their charges progress into Tiers 2, 3, and 4 with corresponding higher charges per 1,000 gallons of usage. Since you are only charged for the water you use, using less water within your “budget” does save you money and staying out of Tier 2 and above saves you even more. It’s a good system that automatically encourages sensible use of the resource. There’s additional information on our website at CPNMD.org/water.

Every residence in CPNMD has a water meter inside of their house. Our staff is happy to assist with proper meter reading. You can call them to schedule an appointment at any time: 303-688-8550.

Why are water bills in cities like Aurora and Denver so much lower than Castle Pines?

There are many factors that go into water rates and fees, and those factors vary by water provider.

For CPMND, these factors include:

  • Water Sources – Most of our water comes from underground wells in the Denver Basin Aquifers. These aquifers do not replenish themselves, so we started planning for renewable water infrastructure, which has associated costs.
  • Infrastructure – Given our size, it’s more economical for us to partner with existing providers for treatment and storage. Denver Water, for example, has more control over its costs given its size and owned assets, some of which date back more than 90 years.
  • Customer Base – CPNMD is much smaller (3,200 business and residential taps) and newer than providers serving Denver or Aurora (over 325,000 residential taps), so we don’t benefit from the same economies of scale or “early entry” in the market for water rights.
  • Subsidies – Some providers assess higher taxes to offset the cost of water. So, while bills in some areas may look lower, those people could be paying higher taxes.

We set rates and fees based on cost of service. Rates cover variable costs (water use) and fees cover fixed costs (infrastructure to get the water to your tap). We use a third-party consultant that has developed a model that each year is updated with the proposed budget. The model then tells us what the rates and fees need to be to cover our costs.

Each year, as part of this process, the Board of Directors works with staff to assure that the proposed budget is in line with community needs and expectations, via a series of public meetings and communications.

We’ve pulled together a rate comparison based on information published on area water provider websites. The below assumes 5,000 gallons/month of indoor usage and 10,000 gallons/month of outdoor usage. The monthly charge per provider would look like this:

Woodmoor: $175.28
Roxborough: $138.84
Arapahoe County: $114.94
CPNMD: $107.80
Castle Rock: $103.34
Centennial: $76.55
Parker: $74.08

Please note:

Most of these providers saw increases in price since 2014 similar or greater than CPNMD. This comparison does not take into consideration mill levies that are collected to offset costs. Additionally, Castle Rock, Parker and Centennial are all in the WISE project, are working on renewable water plans and have larger customer bases.

Centennial Water & Sanitation District (serving Highlands Ranch) also created a rate comparison chart based on 2016 figures. This was published in a January 2017 Fact Sheet.

It’s important to note that the comparisons do not account for renewable water fees.

Do other water providers assess renewable water fees?

Yes, most providers in Douglas County assess fees for renewable water. CPNMD has the lowest renewable water fee ($15.00) among all area providers. Castle Rock charges $26.00, Centennial $27.00 and Parker $30.00.

Why has my water bill has gone up dramatically since 2014?

In 2015, the Board of Directors increased water rates and fees by about 8%. In 2016, the increase was about half that, 4.5%. These decisions relate to the factors listed above, which affect the cost of service. Some of the pipelines in Castle Pines are 20+ years old, and we knew we’d have some upcoming infrastructure repairs and replacements.

How is new development factored into water fees and rates?

New development contributes in many ways, including paying tap or connection fees to CPNMD to help offset the cost of infrastructure which is needed to provide service to the development. New developments in the community, such as Lagae Ranch, also pay an additional fee on top of the tap fee which is earmarked for renewable water. Developers are also responsible for constructing and paying for the infrastructure within the individual developments.

Additionally, each home or business in Lagae Ranch will pay property taxes, a portion of which comes directly to CPNMD.

RENEWABLE WATER

What’s the difference between ground water, well water and renewable? And why does the cost to deliver the water vary so much?

There are two types of water – groundwater and surface water. To access both types of water in Colorado, an individual or entity must own “rights” to put that water to beneficial use.

Groundwater is accessed by drilling deep beneath the earth’s surface to create a well where the water sits. The Denver Basin aquifers are an example of groundwater. Many wells have been drilled to access the water, which is being depleted every year.

Surface water, on the other hand, comes from sources that naturally replenish themselves, such as lakes and streams. The water must be collected from a watershed before it’s delivered to a treatment plant and then piped to homes and businesses.

Given the nature of drilling required to access groundwater, and given that these aquifers don’t get replenished, it becomes increasingly expensive to rely on them. The cost of delivery is tied to pipeline infrastructure and maintenance thereof. The costs vary greatly from city to city.

I thought Castle Pines turned down a measure on renewable water.

The question on the 2016 ballot was whether to pay for water delivery infrastructure with a 15-mill property tax increase.

While the voters said no to financing a renewable water system with a property tax, the vote wasn’t a referendum on renewable water. In fact, CPNMD has been acquiring surface water rights and negotiating storage partnerships for the last ten years, so we’re now committed to providing the community with 50% renewable water by 2030. To begin building a fund to pay for the infrastructure necessary to take advantage of the renewable water sources CPNMD owns, the Board of Directors voted in December 2016 to approve a $15 monthly fee for every tap in our service area. CPNMD began collecting that fee in January of this year.

But there’s good news in all of this. You might recall that CPNMD recently paid off some debt that will amount to a reduction of 22 mills of property tax, meaning everyone’s property tax bill declined this year. Our proposal for the voters in 2016 was to replace the 22 mills with 15 mills. Property tax is often preferable to pay for water infrastructure because the amount can be deducted on your federal tax return.

The $15 monthly renewable water fee was just a start. The community conversation about how to continue financing our infrastructure is ongoing. Be sure to sign up for our email list on our website so you see announcements for upcoming public outreach events.

Is CPNMD seeking to acquire more renewable water rights?

No. We acquired renewable water rights over 10 years ago in anticipation of growth and increased demand. Now we’re work working through the financing for storage and infrastructure needs that must be in place to take advantage of those renewable water rights. This includes partnership for storage at Rueter-Hess Reservoir and in the expanded Chatfield Reservoir once it’s complete. We also need gravel pit storage along the South Platte River near Platteville. Lastly, the pipeline infrastructure we access from Centennial was not built to handle the extra capacity we need, so it is experiencing some bottle necks that need to be corrected. These are long-term capital projects that will require significant public financing.

What’s CPNMD’s goal for renewable water?

Recognizing the initial renewable water financing plan and package was too aggressive, the Board voted in December 2016 to reduce the provision of renewable water to 50% and extend the timeline to 2030. This decision resulted in a reduction in the total capital cost to $65 million. As a modest step to begin to collect funds to pay for this revised plan, the Board also voted to approve a monthly flat fee in the amount of $15/meter for most residences (there are some cases where larger-than-average homes or businesses have larger meters, and therefore an increased fee). The collection of the new fee started in January 2017.

Will the $15 renewable water fee increase?

If the community comes together to find another way to finance this capital project, for example through a property tax increase (which can be taken as a reduction on federal income returns), the $15 renewable water fee will be eliminated.

Will CPNMD pursue another bond? If so, when?

A bond question taken to the voters to allow CPNMD to take on debt to pay for this project, which is ultimately paid for via increased property taxes, is the most efficient and economical way to finance the infrastructure needed. That’s because the increased property taxes can be taken as a deduction on federal income returns, whereas fees cannot. The earliest CPNMD would pursue a bond election is May 2018. Moving forward with an election depends on the feedback we get from the community throughout our increased public engagement efforts.

Can’t we just buy our water from the City of Castle Pines just like citizens of Denver and Aurora do?

Unlike Denver and Aurora, the City of Castle Pines does not own any water rights. Therefore, the City has no access to ground or surface water to use or to sell. Given the complicated nature of water rights, which date back 100 years in Colorado, it would be cost-prohibitive for the City to attempt to acquire such rights now and build the infrastructure needed to deliver it to your home.

Water is a finite resource. When do we run out of water?

There’s really no way of telling. What we do know is that every entity pulling water from the Denver Basin aquifers have dropped their pumps as low as they’ll go. The aquifers are not like large tanks, but instead are rock and sand with water trapped in them. And the water levels continue to decline year after year. According to numerous* measures, the water declines between 17 and 65 feet each year. This means that, since 2002, the annual average decline in the water level is 93 to 340 percent.

This is why each water provider in northern Douglas County has been looking for, and continues to seek, ways to reduce reliance on non-renewable groundwater source. As more of us reduce our reliance, the longevity of the resource will increase. Wouldn’t it be great if we still had ground water to fall back on in the event of a prolonged drought as well as to help us reduce the amount of storage space we need in reservoirs to increase drought tolerance? These aquifers should be an insurance plan, rather than our primary source of water.

*Sources:

http://water.state.co.us/groundwater/Levels/Pages/HydroGeo.aspx

http://coloradogeologicalsurvey.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/rtv5n4.pdf (page 11)

https://issuu.com/cfwe/docs/cg-groundwater

PARKS & RECREATION

How do I reserve a practice sports field or park pavilion?

Ball fields maintained by CPNMD can be reserved for a nominal fee. How to reserve a facility. Pavilion areas at Coyote Ridge and Retreat Park are covered and may be reserved for special events or picnics. You may also contact Susan or Patty at the District office at 303-688-8550.

How do I reserve the community center?

Located at 7404 Yorkshire Drive, the Castle Pines North Community Center is a full-service facility that can be used for meetings and special events. The building features restrooms and a small kitchen. The Community Center may be rented for a nominal fee. Contact us to make a reservation.

What are the rates to reserve a sports field, park pavilion or the community center?

The rates for fields, park pavilions and the CPNMD community center for residents and non-residents, HOAs, scout and school groups, and profit and non-profit organizations are established through the year 2015. Fee schedule.

WASTE AND STORM WATER

How can I get information about HOA ownership of storm water systems?

CPNMD provided Stormwater Ownership Maps to the Master HOA and the City in 2015. Each HOA should have a copy they can distribute to interested homeowners. If you’re having trouble getting the document from your HOA, please contact Patty Hoffman at patty@cpnmd.org.

Is CPNMD turning over wastewater fees to the HOAs?

No, and in further discussion this turned out to be a question regarding whether CPNMD was turning over storm water facilities to the HOAs. We were never attempting to turn over anything, rather we were attempting to get the HOAs to better understand what they own and are responsible for maintaining.


RENEWABLE WATER PLAN

Is the Renewable Water Implementation Plan available on the CPNMD website?

Yes. The nearly 200-page report is available here.

When was the Renewable Water Implementation Plan approved by the public?

In October 2015. It’s the job of the Board of Directors, representing the voting public, to approve and adopt such plans. CPNMD board and staff hosted public forums and meetings to gather input before voting to adopt the plan. You can download it here.

Can the community get a fuller picture of the phases, schedule and costs of the Renewable Water Implementation Plan?

Yes. All of this information is available on our website in the full plan and subsequent presentations. However, we understand it is a lot of complicated and technical information to sort through. We’re working to break-down the nuances and develop some simpler answers to all of these questions – and others we’re frequently asked. Stay tuned!

Has CPNMD conducted any research to determine why the spring 2016 ballot measure on the mill levy to fund the Renewable Water Implementation Plan failed?

Not yet. CPNMD invested in polling and research prior to the election and the data demonstrated broad support by a 2 to 1 margin. We did not think it would be financially responsible or strategically beneficial to conduct research immediately following the election due to the disparity between the outcome and the pre-election polling. However, we have now started to actively seek public input.

Has federal funding been sought to help pay for this plan?

No. CPNMD closely monitors opportunities to offset the cost of this plan through federal, state and other entities. To date, there has not been federal funding available.

What partnerships with other water providers has CPNMD forged or pursued as an alternative or supplement to the plan? Or even as a means to help offset costs?

Many. For example, the plan analyzed many potential partnerships including potential scenarios with Centennial, Parker, and East Cherry Creek Valley. Once the plan narrowed 315 possible solutions down to the preferred plan, the CPNMD’s staff, board and consultants sought out partnerships that will lead to reducing capital costs and future operating costs, as well as maximize the use of surface water rights.

Partnerships in place today include being a member of the Chatfield Reallocation Project, which will allow us to put to work our previous investments into water on the South Platte River, our partnership with Centennial that allows us to use the investment made in the Interconnect Pump Station and Pipeline and bring wintertime renewable water into CPNMD’s service area. Future partnerships look to include an expansion of the Centennial Water Treatment Plant to allow year around deliveries of renewable water, which will take advantage of the economies of scale not realized if the we must construct our own water treatment plant. We are also partnering with other water rights holders on the South Platte River in an effort to maximize the amount of water available under existing water rights.

What alternatives to the plan have been considered?

The purpose of the plan was to vet the feasibility of all options available to us. We started with 315 ideas, narrowed it to 195 possibilities and ended up with a list of 3 of the most viable options. Those options are available in the full plan on our website and will also be more clearly explained in future communications.

RATES & FEES

How can I get a copy of the October 17, 2016 rate presentation from the consultant?

The presentation from Bartle Wells Associates, experts in public financing and municipal issues, is available on our website at: http://cpnmd.org/news/2016/10/20/now-available-dra...

Are the proposed increases for 2017 all fixed costs?

No. The proposed increases are a combination of a moderate rate increase of 4.5% (less than the increase imposed in 2016), very minimal increases in fixed fees (less than $2.00) and a new renewable water fee that is currently under consideration. The goal is to get fair and consistent methods of recovering costs associated with water supply and infrastructure for all residents. The initial 2017 budget proposal presented at the October 17, 2016 public meeting, indicates that over 90% of customers would see an overall impact of $22 or less on their monthly bills. However, additional public input is still being sought to determine the appropriate balance of fixed fees and tiered rates to cover costs.

Why do households that use less water pay the same amount in fixed fees as larger households?

It takes the same amount of infrastructure (and maintenance thereof) to deliver quality water to the tap in a small household as it does a large household. That’s why it’s a fixed cost that does not vary by size or use.


CONSERVATION

What conservation programs does CPNMD offer?

CPNMD has been engaged in a number of conservation programs and implemented technologies to help address the ongoing limited water supply in Douglas County. In 2008, CPNMD installed a computerized irrigation system to detect real-time issues, in addition to water management reporting and water budgeting. Additionally, CPNMD works to educate its customers about water conservation at home – ranging from a watering guides and schedules to a robust rebate program and tips to check household leaks. More information on our conservation efforts can be found here.


INFRASTRUCTURE

What’s CPNMD’s plan for replacing aging infrastructure?

Replacing infrastructure is a significant cost burden to CPNMD, which is why we plan for it. The organization has been diligent about maintain a healthy financial reserve for this very thing. For instance, it has come to our attention this year that we must replace 2.5 miles of aging pipeline that sits under Castle Pines Parkway. While it’s not an expense we planned for in the operating budget, it is funding we have available because of our responsible financial planning.


COMMUNICATIONS

If there is another ballot initiative, will there be more communications this time around?

Yes. Despite our best attempts to engage and communicate with our customers about the ballot measure, we learned from many people that they weren’t aware of the public forums or meetings and didn’t see the mailings and emails. We’ve recently made an investment to increase the frequency and quality of our communications and commit to improving how we inform our customers about all decisions and initiatives that affect them.

Why does CPNMD spend so much money on communications consultants and advertising in the Castle Pines Connection?

It’s not unusual for a small, budget-conscious organization to hire out communications and marketing rather than employing full-time staff. We’ve invested more resources in our communications consultants recently in response to an abundance of feedback from our customers who want and expect more regular communications about decisions and initiatives that affect them. People like to receive their communications in a variety of ways, so it’s important we invest in traditional mailings, social media, our website, events and local advertising as a means to reach a broad base of individuals.