It’s Wednesday, August 16, 2023.

Welcome to Wednesday, Boulder. And what a Wednesday it is. The best one this week has to offer.

For today, I cover water rate increases coming to a neighborhood near you, and probably your neighborhood too. While Boulderites aren’t facing a 60% increase in their water bills over the next few years like Lafayetters, a cumulative 25% bump is on the horizon. The reason for this increase comes down to age and floods. Much of Boulder’s infrastructure is old.

Also, Boulder has the highest flood risk of any city in Colorado. Since much of it was built before modern floodplain regulations, a good chunk of us are living in the path of future floodwaters. The project on the docket first? The CU South mitigation project. City staff are asking for $63 million for it in 2024.

Finally, a new restaurant has opened for your dining pleasure. Not wanting to become just another fine-dining restaurant, Masas & Agaves is focusing on the cuisine of a specific region of Mexico. Selecting the chef’s hometown, Oaxaca, Masas & Agaves is bringing slow-cooked meats and adobo marinades that Oaxacan cuisine is known for to its location on Walnut Street.

Enjoy the day. I hope it’s fan-tastic. Because you’ll need a fan. Because it’s hot.

— Tim, reporter

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Featured stories

Boulder residents to pay more for water as city addresses flood risk and aging infrastructure

Boulder has the highest risk of flooding of any municipality in Colorado, and it has fallen woefully behind in managing that risk. Continue reading…

Boulder’s newest Mexican restaurant celebrates authentic Oaxacan cuisine

Masas & Agave, a new fine-dining restaurant downtown, serves authentic farm-to-table dishes and mezcal from southern Mexico. “We are here to teach people and provide them with an experience.” Continue reading…

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In other news

Ah, heat, hello old friend

It’s going to be hot today, just like it was hot yesterday and will be hot tomorrow. A slight breeze will move the hot air from time to time, periodically awakening you from your heat-induced stupor.

County officials start announcing plans for 2024 election

Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty announced this week he is planning to run for reelection in 2024. Dougherty was first elected DA of the 20th Judicial District in 2018, and oversaw the county’s legal system through the Covid-19 pandemic, which prompted courts to temporarily shut down and the county sheriff to enact more strict arrest standards to prevent the disease from spreading through the county jail.

Separately, County Commissioner Claire Levy announced she is seeking reelection to continue serving on the Board of County Commissioners. Levy, a former state representative, was first elected in 2020. She served on the three-person commission during the fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic and the Dec. 31, 2021 Marshall Fire, the state’s most destructive wildfire on record.

The county commissioners oversee a $594 million budget and, practically every week, award contracts for a wide range of regional services, such as mental health treatment, emergency response and transportation infrastructure. Read more on BRL.

City launches new home down payment assistance program

The new program offers 0% interest loans to middle-class homebuyers with the goal of helping more people be able to afford to stay in Boulder. According to the city, the loan maxes out at $200,000 or 30% the sale price of the home, whichever is less.

The loans must be paid back after 15 years or when the owner sells the home. In exchange for the loan, the homeowners agree to sign a covenant that limits the appreciation of the home at 3% to 5.5% each year, according to the city. (This is below historical appreciation rates in Boulder, according to city officials.) To qualify for the program, households must earn no more than 120% the area median income. That’s about $111,600 for an individual, according to the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority. Future buyers of the home may also have to meet certain income requirements.

We reported on the initiative back in February.

Mitigating some coal mine fires

The Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining & Safety is set to begin mitigating the long-burning Lewis Coal Mine Fire in unincorporated Boulder County. Increased underground fire activity has prompted an emergency declaration by the state to prevent fire spreading to the surface through heat igniting nearby grass. The project should be done by spring 2024.

Mitigation for this coal seam will involve excavating 30 feet below ground, blending and monitoring burning coal, and restoring the site. A public information session is scheduled for Aug. 28 to address community concerns.

Though according to the Boulder County Sheriff’s and DA’s investigation, an unmoored powerline was the “most probable” cause of one of the fires that grew to become the Marshall Fire, Xcel has pointed to the smoldering coal seams as a potential fire cause. It’s important to note that the Lewis Coal Mine Fire is not the coal seam that would have potentially started the Marshall Fire. The Marshall coal seam would have done that. And the Marshall seam was mitigated itself years ago.

After it started a small grass fire in 2005, “CDRMS placed 275 tons of unwashed aggregate over the vent area,” according to the investigation. And since then, no surface temps have been recorded as hot enough to start a blaze. Still, additional mitigation for the Marshall site is tentatively planned for next year.

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Get involved

Boulder City Council public hearing on raising occupancy limits

At Thursday night’s city council meeting, councilmembers will hold a public hearing and vote on an ordinance that would allow five unrelated people to live together, up from three in most neighborhoods in Boulder. Advance sign-up is required for public participation. The result of this vote could bring about a policy change that has for years dominated the debate over how to tackle the city’s housing crisis. Read BRL’s earlier coverage, here and here.

Superior Thirsty Thursdays with the Town Board

Superior is holding “Thirsty Thursdays” as a way for residents to engage in conversation with the Town Board. This is a chance to pick the brains of your local leaders. The event will take place this Thursday from 7-9 p.m. at Bambei Brewing (100 Superior Plaza Way Suite 102). The topics are unstructured and the drinks optional.

Louisville Cultural Council meeting

The Louisville Cultural Council is meeting on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the Louisville Public Library meeting room (951 Spruce Street). Discussion items will include art grants for 2023 and 2024. The public can attend virtually if they prefer. During the meeting the council will accept public comments.

Be in a ballet

If you’re interested in joining a ballet, here’s your chance. “Brown Sugar Nutcracker,” is the production — a fresh take on Tchaikovsky’s ballet. Diverse cultural traditions merge with music and dance genres, curated by Georgia Michelle and Amanda Berg Wilson. Auditions are coming up with those at Boulder Ballet being held on Aug. 19 from 1 to 4 p.m. Wear comfy clothes. Other dates are available on the production’s website.

Tim Drugan is the climate and environment reporter for Boulder Reporting Lab, covering wildfires, water and other climate-related issues for Boulder with a focus on explanatory and solutions journalism. He also is the lead writer of BRL Today, our morning newsletter. Tim grew up in New Hampshire and graduated from UNH with a degree in English/Journalism. Email: