Parker Water delays inclusion of Castle Pines residents

Too many unresolved issues mean Jan. 3 deadline won’t be met

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With a number of outstanding issues and unresolved problems, the Parker Water Board voted to delay a voter-approved measure to bring Castle Pines residents into the Parker Water District by Jan. 3.
In a presentation to the board, Parker Water District Manager Ron Redd said with so many issues, he felt it could be a liablity to current water customers in Parker if the inclusion plan continued on the initial timelime.
With board approval, Redd stressed that Parker Water is still interested in bringing Castle Pines customers into the district, but said it will likely be later in 2022 that it can happen.
The decision directly impacts 12,000 Castle Pines residents in the Castle Pines North Metro District living west of Interstate 25. In total, it equates to about 3,500 customer accounts for Paker Water.
Voters approved the inclusion plan that was negotiated by Parker Water and the metro district in May.
In explaining his decision to bring his concerns before the board, Redd said it is all about protecting current water customers in Parker and making sure outstanding issues are resolved before officially bringing the Castle Pines customers into the district.
Among Redd’s major concerns is a pending lawsuit filed by the City of Brighton against the Castle Pines North Metro District. Filed in November, the lawsuit challenges the metro district’s sale of water rights to Aurora. Brighton is challenging the sealed bid process the metro district used, highlighting the ”improper” way Auora offered an addiontion $1 million if it won the ability to buy all four water right options being sold.
Brighton claims that its bid for the water rights to the Fulton Ditch Share Group and to the Lupton Bottom Share Group were the highest bids submitted.
Redd said the sale of the water rights is key to the inclusion process because at the original Jan. 3 deadline, the metro district would have to pay an up-front cost of $35 million to go toward paying infrastructure costs to bring the Castle Pines residents into the Parker Water District.
In notifying residents by email, David McEntire, president of the Castle Pines North Metro District, said he is confident the lawsuit will be resolved but it will take months. Because of the lengthy legal process, McEntire said it ties up $18 million that was to be used to pay Parker Water.
Besides the lawsuit, Redd said other issues that cannot be resolved by the Jan. 3 inclusion deadline include:
Water and wastewater violations: Redd said the metro district is dealing with several water and wastewater violations with the State of Colorado. Redd said if Parker Water can develop an agreement where the water district does not assume any liability for the issues that are being sorted out with state authorities, the proocess can move foward. Like the lawsuit, Redd said, the agreement cannot be completed by Jan. 3.
Groundwater rights: Redd said water rights currently owned by the Castle Pines North Metro District and the Castle Pines Metro District are in dispute. While the north metro district promised the water rights, Redd said legal documents proving it have not been found.
Conveyance of easements and property rights: Redd said this is another area where legal documentation is required to locate property ownership for easements associated with the north metro district and is supposed to be turned over to Parker Water with the inclusion.
Operational Issues: Redd said six of the north metro district’s 10 wells and the water purification facility are currently not operational and are in need of various stages of repair and upgrades. With supply chain issues, Redd said the issues cannot be fixed before Jan. 3.
Need for additional funds: In gathering information over the last year, Redd said Parker Water has discovered $11 million in unforseen expenses that have to be addressed at inclusion. The north metro district only has $5 million of that.
McEntire informed residents of the delayed inclusion plan in a newsletter on Dec. 15. In the letter, McEntire said both the north metro district and Parker Water are still working to resolve the issues and bring Castle Pines residents online with the new water district.
McEntire called all of the issues highlighted by Redd ”resolvebable”
However, until the issues are resolved, McEntire said the north metro district will continue to own and operate water and wastewater services for the 12,000 residents that the inlcusion plan impacts.
Calling the delay ”temporary,” McEntire said the metro district will keep residents informed of any rate changes or issues through the website at www.cpnmd.org.
Aiming at a new timeline in late 2022, Redd said the Parker Water Board gave him permission to continue negotiating and work with the north metro district to resolve issues that are in the two entities’ control.

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