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Water conservation requirement will be 'billing nightmare'

NEW LONDON -- A state requirement that's designed to encourage residents to conserve water will create new problems for small towns.

"It's going to be a billing nightmare," said Trudie Guptill, New London City Administrator.

Towns with a population of 1,000, like New London, have until 2013 to get a plan in place to charge increased rates for more water usage. Towns that have more than 1,000 people must implement the changes by January.

The increasing block rates promoted by the Department of Natural Resources would have water suppliers charge one rate for 0-6,000 gallons of water and a higher rate for someone who uses 6,000 to 12,000 gallons of water and an even higher rate for those using 12,000 to 24,000 gallons. The prices could increase by as much as 25 to 50 percent from block to block.

At their meeting Wednesday, the New London City Council discussed hiring a company to televise 12,000 linear feet of sewer lines to identify areas that need to be repaired. The city received two bids for the nearly $19,000 project, with just $200 separating the proposals.

In other action:

- The council members held another discussion on a fence ordinance, but anticipating that there would be a 2-2 tie vote with the mayor absent, the issue was tabled.

- The Council approved a law enforcement contract with the Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Department for 2010 that includes a reduction in hours. The change will save the city $12,500. During winter months the city will receive 15 hours a week of service, which is a reduction of five hours a week. During the summer months the city will receive 20 hours a week of police coverage, which is a reduction of 10 hours a week.

- The city will meet with the New London Township board of directors this month to discuss the possibility of working together to install warning sirens.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

(320) 894-9750