ELDORADO AREA WATER & SANITATION DISTRICT
2 North Chamisa Drive, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87508-9483
IMPORTANT MESSAGE TO OUR CUSTOMERS
May 1, 2023: Summer Watering Restrictions begin May 1, 2023 as part of the Water Restrictions & Alert Management Plan (WRAMP). This will be implemented yearly from May 1 through August 31, coinciding with the Water Conservation Surcharge. The Summer Watering Restrictions will help to ensure that wells can sustain the water supply required to meet customer demand, and water levels in the tanks can be maintained to the necessary levels. However, the General Manager or Board may initiate a Stage Alert at any time due to other factors. The April issue of Water Notes explains in more detail as does the website if you scroll to view 'District Updates.' Thank you.
Does EAWSD make a profit?
No. Eldorado Area Water and Sanitation District (EAWSD) is a special governmental district. It makes no profit. It is governed by an elected, unpaid Board of Directors, supported by volunteer committees. All its revenues — whether from rates or property taxes — go toward operating, maintaining and improving the water system and retiring its debt.
Where does the money come from to pay for our water system and services?
To operate our water district and maintain our wells, pumping stations and distribution system, EAWSD relies on two primary sources of funding: the revenue from water sales and fees, and property taxes. To fund new wells and infrastructure improvements, we supplement our own revenues by applying for government grants and low-interest state and federal loans.
How is EAWSD funded through our property taxes?
Property tax revenues are a critical resource for the District because, unlike water rates, they do not vary with consumption. Customers living within the formal water district boundaries that were established by the State in 2004 currently pay 4.246 mils ($4.264 per $1,000 of taxable property value) in taxes to EAWSD as part of their annual property tax assessment. Customers whose property lies outside the water district pay a higher “Out of District” monthly base fee in lieu of taxes.
Who is In-District and who is Out-of-District?
EAWSD’s service area includes communities located on both sides of U.S. Highway 285 between I-25 and Lamy. Customers within the formal boundaries of the District, which were established by the State in 2004, support EAWSD through their property taxes. Customers whose properties lie outside those boundaries pay a higher “Out of District” monthly base fee in lieu of taxes. A District Boundary Map is available online, and a paper copy can be consulted at the EAWSD offices.
Why does EAWSD carry a large debt load?
EAWSD carries an unusually large debt for a water utility of its size because of the cost incurred to acquire the water utility from Eldorado’s original developer in 2004. The District acquired the water system through condemnation: the jury in the condemnation case set the price of the utility at $11.047 million. Subsequently, EAWSD took on a debt of $13.7 million to acquire the utility (including bond issuance costs and funds for critically needed capital improvements). Some of this original debt was in the form of general obligation bonds secured by property taxes, and some was in the form of revenue bonds secured by water rates. These bonds were refinanced at lower interest rates in June 2013, using loans from the New Mexico Finance Authority and will be fully paid off in 2025. Our payments to service this debt cost more than one million dollars a year. Our current debt principal as of June 30, 2017 is $7,805,436 with an average interest rate of less than 3 percent. The District will retire approximately $723,000 of the debt this year and the principal balance owed will continue to decrease every year. Click here for more details and to see a chart.
Where can I find a breakdown of the District’s budget?
Detailed budget information is available on the EAWSD Financial Information page. Proposed annual budgets are presented for public review and comment at Board meetings in April and May of each year. Progress against budget is reviewed quarterly by the Board on a formal basis, with monthly updates provided as needed.
Where can I find a breakdown of the current capital program?
EAWSD maintains a 5-year renewal, replacement and capital improvement plan (the “Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan” or “ICIP”), which is updated, reviewed and approved by the Board annually, and submitted to the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration.
How are capital projects identified and approved?
EAWSD maintains both a long-term Utility Master Plan and an Asset Management Plan, which help determine improvements needed and the timing for infrastructure replacement. These plans are used to develop and adopt the 5-year capital improvement plan (the “Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan” or “ICIP”), which is updated, reviewed and approved by the Board annually and submitted to the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration. These plans are available to the community in the Technical Reports folder in the EAWSD Document Library.
How are capital projects approved?
Board approval is required to proceed with infrastructure improvement projects and major maintenance or replacement projects. The Board prioritizes projects based on the asset management and utility master plans; on recommendations from staff, consultants and the EAWSD Capital Projects Advisory Committee; and on community input. Due to budget limitations and funding availability, approval is often given for specific phases of a project: for example, the Board might initially approve the planning, design, and engineering phases before authorizing the procurement, construction, and/or installation phases.
How can I communicate suggestions or concerns to EAWSD management and the Board of Directors?
The EAWSD website provides links for communicating with Board members and the General Manager. Alternatively, emails can be sent to the general mailbox, info@EAWSD.org. More importantly, members of the community are strongly encouraged to attend regular Board meetings and meet their elected volunteer Board members in person.