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Frequently Asked Questions and Myth Busters

Cherokee Metropolitan District

Statement: There is at least one individual who is currently knocking on doors and distributing flyers throughout the District telling people that, “Cherokee’s water is poisoning you and they are doing nothing about it.”  This is grossly incorrect and customers should be wary of any such individual(s) trying to make these statements.

Answer: Cherokee’s water is pristine, alluvial groundwater from the Upper Black Squirrel Designated Groundwater Basin.  The aquifer is renewed partially by rain and snowmelt and is protected through myriad of treatment processes, regulations and monitoring.  Any trace PFAs compounds that get into the Basin through household and commercial uses will be removed by a multi-million-dollar water treatment facility that is being budgeted and planned for construction over the next 2-3 years.  PFAs compounds are not currently regulated at the trace amounts recently detected by the State in a testing program for which Cherokee volunteered.  However, in anticipation of new regulations, Cherokee is taking steps to be ahead of such regulations and prepared to remove any compounds that may be added to our pristine groundwater.  These are public records and indisputable.  Customers should also be wary of salespeople trying to take advantage of them by running tests in their homes and trying to sell them filters of any kind.  For any questions and for verified information about your water quality, please contact us at 719-597-5080 and/or review our annual Consumer Confidence Report at www.cherokeemetro.org.

Question: Where does Cherokee get its water that it serves to its customers?

Answer: Cherokee produces all of its water from groundwater sources throughout El Paso County.  Approximately 90% of all water is produced from the renewable Upper Black Squirrel Designated Groundwater Basin in eastern El Paso County.  The remainder comes from two Denver Basin wells in the Black Forest area.

Question: Is Cherokee’s water safe to drink?

Answer: ABSOLUTELY!  Cherokee’s water is pristine alluvial groundwater, produced, treated and delivered in full compliance with all State and Federal requirements and tested every single day.  Cherokee is mandated to comply with sanitary inspections and all testing requirements and publishes a Consumer Confidence Report each and every year.  That report may be found at CherokeeMetro.org.  Any violations of regulatory requirements related to water quality must and will be reported to all customers.

Question: What is Cherokee’s average water hardness?

Answer: Depending on which groundwater wells are running at any given time, the average is around 150 mg/L.

Question: Does water hardness contribute to any negative health impacts?

Answer: No. There is absolutely NO scientific, medical data linking water hardness to any ill health impacts.

Question: What is Colorado Springs Utilities Hardness?

Answer: Colorado Springs Utilities publishes a range of average water hardness of 28.9 mg/l to 161 mg/l

Question: Is water hardness regulated?

Answer: No. No state or Federal or any other agency regulates water hardness in municipal water treatment and distribution systems.

Question: May I install a water softener system in my home?

Answer: Yes. All customers are free to install any kind of water filtration system or softening system in their own home.

Question: How much did the recent Reverse Osmosis and Membrane Bioreactor Systems, Total Dissolved Solids Project at the Cherokee Wastewater Reclamation Facility cost?

Answer: $42,465,874, of which Meridian Service Metropolitan District pays 45.8%.  The project came in on time and slightly UNDER budget!

Question: Can tenants put water and wastewater accounts in their own name?

Answer: In November 2017, the Board of Directors directed a contracted official acting as General Manager to implement a policy whereby all customer accounts would be placed in the name of the owner, landlord, or management company. Tenants living in these homes would pay their utility bill directly to the landlord. This policy was never supported or endorsed by staff or our current Board and was in effect five months before it was reversed back to the current policy allowing tenants to open accounts in their name.  Ultimately, if water and wastewater bills are not paid, the District may lien the property and seek collections through the El Paso County Treasurer’s Office.

Question: What services are provided by Cherokee Metropolitan District?

Answer: Cherokee is a governmental Special District that provides water and wastewater treatment services to all customers of the District, including Schriever Space Force Base, Meridian Service Metropolitan District (wastewater only), Woodmen Hills Metropolitan District (350 acre feet of finished water per year) and other contracted areas in El Paso County.  It also provides parks and street lighting (pass-through only, no electricity produced by the District) services to customers within the legal boundaries of the District and owns and operates the Cherokee Ridge Golf Course.

Question: Is Cherokee an HOA?

Answer: NO.  Cherokee is a Title 32, quasi-municipal, Special District and is in no way an HOA.

Question: Is Cherokee responsible for street maintenance and repairs?

Answer: NO.  Cherokee does not provide any street maintenance services.  Concerns about streets, curb and gutter, most right of ways, etc., are the responsibility of El Paso County.

Question: Does Cherokee operate on tax revenue?

Answer: NO.  Cherokee receives no tax revenue of any kind.  The District operates entirely on rates and fees paid by customers.

  • Additionally, Cherokee does not have “pot money” available for use in the delivery of any of its services.

Question: How is Cherokee governed and what areas do Board members serve?

Answer: Cherokee Metropolitan District (CMD) is a governmental entity receiving its authority from the State of Colorado. The Board is the governance body and the General Manager handles all administrative and operational duties. The five members of the Board of Directors of CMD are each elected at large to serve the interests of the Metropolitan District.  They are bound by State law.  They do not serve specific subdivisions or areas, but the District as a whole and the services provided by the District.  They take an oath that includes a fiduciary duty to the District and to the public’s trust. §§24-12-101,24-12-103, and 32-1-901(1), C.R.S.; Art. XII, Sect. 9, Colo. Const.

Question: Did Cherokee win a legal case that provided new “operational costs” at the Wastewater Reclamation Facility?

Answer: Cherokee won a monumental legal case in 2021 for CAPITAL COSTS related to State mandated compliance requirements at the District’s Wastewater Reclamation Facility.  Those requirements resulted in the planning, design and construction of a state-of-the-art, reverse osmosis treatment addition to the existing facilities, in the amount of $42,465,874.  The legal proceeding caused a partnering District to pay their contractual 45.8% share of those CAPITAL costs.  That project concluded in 2023 on time and under budget.

  • The District did NOT win any operational costs for the wastewater facility. In fact, operational costs were not any part of the legal proceedings.
  • Operational cost sharing of the wastewater facility is subject to the exact same contractual obligations today, as were put in place in 2003 through an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA), experiencing no change as a result of the legal case.
  • Operational costs of the production, treatment, distribution, collection and compliance of nearly 3 million gallons of water every single day for over 40,000 customers is expensive and those costs have increased substantially. Nearly ALL services, equipment, chemicals, power, administrative, personnel costs, etc, have increased in recent years.
  • Since 2018, the Board and administrative staff have cut hundreds of thousands of dollars from the operational budget, avoiding any rate increases to our customers. However, with unprecedented inflation and significant new systems to maintain and operate, the Board necessarily increased base rates beginning January 2023.  All Board members verbally expressed agreement at the Public Budget Hearing in December of 2023 and voted 4-1, with one member articulating that commercial rates should have been raised higher.

Statement: People have been turned away from attending Board meetings.

Response: Absolutely no person has ever been turned away from attending any Board meeting.  In the event of lack of space in the Board’s small Board room, overflow seating and audio-visual support is provided.  Meetings during which higher attendance is anticipated are held in the larger bay area of the District’s headquarters, in order to accommodate all those interested in the proceedings.

Question: Did Cherokee, “deny paying repairs to make a homeowner whole even though it was because of complete incompetence on Cherokee’s part!”

Answer: NO.  This is 100% false.  In the early morning hours of Jan. 28, 2022, a valve cover on a water main buried at approximately 7 feet underground, installed by a developer in Claremont Ranch many years prior and satisfactorily inspected by the then Superintendent of Cherokee Metropolitan District, failed, possibly due to water hammer, faulty installation or manufacture and/or freeze/thaw.  This caused a high-pressure break.  Water breaks occur often, especially in the winter months.  The District’s insurance investigated and found the occurrence to be no-fault of Cherokee or any other party.  Furthermore, despite the magnitude of the break, Cherokee was able to restore water service to all customers that very same day.

  • Some homeowners in the area experienced water seepage in their basements. All homeowners in the area were contacted on the day of break and photos of most water incursions were taken that day, with the permission of the owners.
  • Cherokee staff and Board members worked with all customers to assist in homeowner claims and any requested restoration support.
  • Cherokee’s property and liability insurance investigated all claims and granted $22,500 in no-fault payments to three customers. Cherokee’s Board granted an additional $30,424.27 in payments to two customers, who asked for additional assistance.  These additional payments are not required by law, but the Board chose to assist the customers who were underinsured and/or submitted documentation and requests.
  • Customers were paid through Cherokee, a total of $52,924.27 in support of restoration from the break.
  • The only claimed amount of costs that were not covered by the Cherokee Board or insurance was $1,596.16, which were costs claimed but unrelated to the break.

Question: Is Cherokee audited?

Answer: Cherokee Metropolitan District’s financials are audited annually by a third-party accounting firm.  The District has never failed audit and has multiple safeguards in place to protect all funds and transactions from internal and external fraud.  The Board members have full access to all payments made each and every month and all budget approvals take place in State mandated, open and public hearings after publication requirements are met.  The public is always invited, not only to public hearings, but to observe all regular and special meetings and/or work sessions of the Board