News Briefs: Water Bill Relief Coming for Winter-Weary Residents

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In Winona, Minn., where residents have kept water running to ward off frozen pipes, the city council has decided to issue a $140 water bill credit if residents can prove their bill was significantly higher during the subzero months. Although frozen pipes on private property aren’t the city’s responsibility, the council felt compelled to help. “This is an issue that we’ve all heard about,” says council member George Borzyskowski. “We all want to do something.” The water bill credit will cost the city an estimated $84,000.

In North Mankato, Minn., similar plans are in place. There, residents could get a 300 gpd water credit if they provide receipts to prove a pipe had frozen. In Mapleton, Minn., the city is charging homes for their costs a year ago. Some towns are anticipating that residents will need to run water through March when the frost line recedes.

Source: Minnesota Post, Mankato Free Press

Boil No More: Lake Station Plant Eliminates Water Problems
A new, nearly $11 million water treatment plant in Lake Station, Ind., will finally bring clean water to area residents. For more than 60 years, Lake Station residents have complained about brown water or a film coating on their drinking water. The water flows from four aquifers and an antiquated water treatment facility. Most residents can’t drink water from their taps without some boiling or filtering.

The 1 mgd plant will come online in April and deliver water to 3,600 households and businesses. Additionally, the plant has enough capacity to pump an extra 500,000 gpd, which can be sold to neighboring communities. The plant boasts two conical tanks to soften water and withdraw calcium, four high-speed pumps with variable frequency drives and timer-controlled LED lighting.

“It does take a commitment from politicians and people running the city to invest in this to solve current problems and for future uses,” says Don Grimstad, American Structurepoint representative.

Source: Post-Tribune/Chicago Sun-Times

Saving Water? You Get a Smiley Face
Sometimes, simple works. That’s what the East Bay Municipal Utility District in California discovered when it tested a water conservation program developed by WaterSmart Software. During the pilot project, households received statements that included water use, comparisons to similar homes and a grade of “great,” “good,” or “take action,” along with a water drop wearing a smiley, neutral or worried expression. Customers who received the assessment decreased water use by 5 percent.

“It’s just human nature to not want to be too different from everyone else,” says Mike Hazinski, the agency’s water conservation supervisor. “It turns out that’s very motivating for customers.”

The energy sector has widely used this approach, but only now are water utilities taking a serious look at social norm marketing and behavior modification.

Source: LA Times

West Virginia Chemical Spill Prompts Water Bill
In a move to protect drinking water, the West Virginia House of Delegates Judiciary Committee passed a water bill that would, among other things, require water utilities to complete a source water protection plan. The bill is in reaction to the January Elk River chemical spill. Utilities would have to report on water storage capability and the feasibility of adding a second water intake or additional water storage. The bill also requires the state Department of Environmental Protection to compile an inventory of every above-ground storage tank in the state.

Source: WV Gazette


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