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Administrator: Deficit expected in New London sewer fund

NEW LONDON -- New London's sanitary sewer fund could be $35,000 in the hole by the end of the year.

The city expects to pay the Green Lake Sanitary Sewer and Water District to treat 4 million gallons more this year than last year. At the same time, the city will be billing customers for 1.4 million gallons less than last year. Groundwater seepage or faulty meters could be to blame.

The city will pay the difference, which will plunge its sanitary sewer fund into a $35,000 deficit, said City Administrator Trudie Guptill. "There's a big swing," she said.

On top of that, the cost to make repairs to the sewer lines has exceeded the budget by $5,000 to $8,000.

City customers should expect a rate increase to go into effect Jan. 1, she said. Besides the city's sewer issues, the higher rates are also needed to offset an anticipated 5 percent increase in water and sewer operation and maintenance services charged by the Green Lake Sanitary Sewer and Water District.

The Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners is expected to take action Tuesday on the new rates.

In the meantime, New London will be "televising" -- viewing via a camera system -- 10,000 feet of sewer lines this fall to detect where breaks and leaks might be occurring.

"Hopefully they'll discover what's happening," she said.

Aging service lines from homes and sewer main lines, plus a very wet fall, has allowed excess groundwater to seep into the city's sewer system, said Guptill. That extra groundwater could account for a large portion of the extra 4 million gallons. It's possible that old water meters could be faulty as well, she said.

The infiltration of water into the lines could account for the large increase in gallons treated, said Guptill. The reason there are fewer gallons "sold" for which the city collects revenue is because people used less water this year.

The city's water fund is expected to break even this year, she said.

Meanwhile, the city is hoping to improve its overall financial situation by refinancing four bonds and restructuring future debt. It's hoped the action will give the city a net savings of $15,000.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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