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Denver Water’s latest warning is sure to evoke groans from households across the city: The utility says it may have to raise rates for residential customers by an average of more than 30 percent over the next three years, starting with 10 percent next year, reports The Denver Post, which points to predictions that the summer of 2011—and summers beyond—will see green lawns everywhere go brown.

During a meeting with water board leaders, Councilwoman Jeanne Faatz relayed her constituents’ sentiments: “They keep asking us to cut back on water use and then keep charging us more” (via Face the State).

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The budget for the utility could increase by $19 million next year to fund operating expenses and improvements on the system.

Meanwhile, Councilman Paul Lopez points out that while city employees are taking five unpaid days off this year in the face of a tight budget, Denver Water employees have none (via 7News). “It’s important that they operate just as efficiently as we do,” he says. “It’s also important that they take the brunt of this recession like we do.”

But there are no plans for furloughs at Denver Water, says CEO Jim Lochhead. “We need to maintain the system and keep it running 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. So, to the extent that we do furloughs, we compromise our ability to do that.”

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