In the next few days the temperatures are going to start to rise. It is going to finally feel like Spring, BUT the frost level is still quite deep. It will take many days for the frost to decrease. To the Water customers; Please, please do not quit running your water; the City Water Department will notify people when it is safe. Please remain running your water to prevent your water service from freezing. REPEAT, PLEASE DO NOT QUIT RUNNING YOUR WATER!
REMEMBER: A pencil-thin sized stream of water...
* If your water service freezes up, please contact Crawford County Dispatch (326-2421) or City Hall (326-6406).
* Hoffman Hall will be open Monday through Friday (7:30 AM to 6 PM) and Saturday and Sunday (Noon to 5 PM) for residents who need to take showers. You will be asked to show your ID. These services are being provided to City residents only.
* WalMart has generously donated bottled water to the City for dispersal. These will be available in City Hall (use the side entrance on the west side of the building) on a first-come, first-serve basis. We will operate on an "honor" system for now. These services are being provided to City residents only.
* We are asking residents to pitch in and if they see a storm drain near their property clogged with snow and ice to try and open it up. With all of the other-related weather issues, we will likely not be able to get to them as quickly as we would like to.
On Saturday February 15th, the City of Prairie du Chien Water Utility began recommending that residents run a small, pencil-sized stream of water in their homes to prevent frozen laterals (pipes) to their homes. This recommendation remains in effect until further notice and is voluntary. Many questions have been fielded at City Hall about how the City will handle the billing process to account for the additional water usage. The Water Department has put together the following questions-and-answers to address residents’ concerns.
How will my bills be adjusted to account for the additional water usage?
According to Public Service Commission rules, a water or “trickle” credit will be established and provided to all customers, based upon annual consumption at this time last year compared to this year. Once the dollar amount on the credit is established, it will be reflected on your bill. While the credit may not cover the entire cost for each and every resident, this cost is obviously much less than a plumbing repair, which would be the responsibility of the property owner for any water lateral damage on their property.
How is the credit determined?
Customer water bills will be adjusted for the water usage to prevent freeze ups on the basis of historic usage as required by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC). According to the PSC, “(a)ny adjustment to a customer’s bills for the excess consumption should be reasonable and should take into account the amount of water the utility directs the customers to run (e.g., the diameter or thickness of the stream of water), the amount of time customers are directed to run water, and any other relevant factors”. The City of Prairie du Chien does NOT determine the credit.
Will I see the credit on my bill?
No, the credit will not appear on your bill as a separate line item. It is calculated by our billing software during the process of determining your final quarterly bill.
Will the credit only be on the next quarterly bill?
The credit will be applied to the 1st and 2nd Quarter bills.
Is it fair that someone who is not running their water is receiving the same credit as someone who is running their water?
Admittedly, the credit may be applied to all water bills, but there is no feasible way to eliminate the credit on the bills for residents who potentially did not run their water. The City simply does not have the manpower to address all of the frozen water lines, as well as going house-to-house to determine who may or may not be running their water. City staff has determined the most efficient and reasonable approach would be to apply a citywide residential water credit.
How much is running the water costing me?
While each home will be different, allowing a pencil-sized stream to run continuously will cost approximately $1 per day in added utility charges, according to Water Utility Director Larry Gates. This cost is obviously much less than a plumbing repair, which would be the responsibility of the property owner for any water lateral damage on their property.
What if my water usage would have been different even without running the water?
If you moved into a residence since last year’s 2nd quarter meter reading, have additional or fewer household members or some other circumstance which could potentially impact the water usage calculations, call City Hall (326-6406) after you receive your next quarterly bill to request a possible adjustment. There is NO guarantee that bills will be adjusted, but we will attempt to be as fair as possible.
What will this do to overall water rates?
Late last year, City Administrator Aaron Kramer told the Council that the City would likely be looking at a water rate increase in either 2015 or 2016. Obviously, we have seen our costs increase dramatically with the recent frozen water pipes, water main breaks, and other related expenses. This is in addition to the costs the Water Department will take on as part of the Marquette Road project and other annual water improvements. As a result, the timeframe to request a water rate increase will be moved forward. “We will likely be going to the Common Council in the next few months and requesting they agree to move forward with applying to the PSC for a water rate increase,” said Gates. “It is too early to speculate what percentage of an increase we would be asking for.” The City’s last water rate increase came in 2008 (3 percent).
What if I have additional questions or concerns?