Winter water woes continue

By Shelia Tomkins

Guttenberg's problems with frozen water lines are continuing as the calendar moves into March.

City Manager Mary Willett reported at the March 3 city council meeting that as of that date there were 90 properties that reported frozen water lines this winter, with 78 of those still frozen. 

Many residents are running a pencil-size stream of water in an effort to avoid freeze-ups. "We have 365 that I am aware of that are running water," said City Utility Clerk Jamie Blume on March 5.

Due to the prolonged cold this year, the city is extending the water-run credits through April 15, so people can continue to run water until that date and be eligible for credits on their utility bills.  

Guttenberg's policy provides that water charges will be credited for usage over 4,000 gallons if usage is double the average for that location, and sewer charges will be credited for any usage over the average usage.

At the March 3 council meeting, the city manager noted that most Iowa communities do not offer credits for running water and customers are expected to pay the full cost for any extra water usage. Many of those cities offer payment plans to customers, allowing them  to take a longer period of time to pay for the extra usage.  

"Through the billing that just went out, we have given $7576.10 in credits on 179 accounts," said the city utility clerk. She also noted that many people began running water toward the end of the billing period and will see credits on their next bill, rather than on the current billing. 

Freeze-ups experienced thus far in Guttenberg have been  primarily along lateral supply lines, which are the responsibility of the homeowner. No frozen city water mains had been determined through the end of February, but as of March 10 city workers were fairly certain that there was a frozen main along the 400-500 block of North River Park Drive. There is concern about additional water main freeze-ups as the weather warms and the frost line is driven deeper. 

Some customers experiencing frozen lines have asked the city if water/sewer charges can be waived during the time they have no service. According to city code, every location where water service is available "but is not connected to the water system shall be considered as benefiting from the system and shall pay the minimum monthly fee."

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