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Park Rapids City Council considers new water rates to encourage conservation

Wiser water use

Park Rapids is looking at changing water rates to reflect conservation.

Minnesota Statute 103G.291 states a public water supplier serving more than 1,000 people shall use a conservation rate structure by Jan. 1, 2013. However, Park Rapids will need to adopt a new rate structure before then in order to receive a grant for a new well house, said City Administrator Bill Smith.

The City Council met Monday to see a proposal put together by Smith and Angela Brumbaugh, the city's treasurer.

A conservation rate structure means a rate structure that encourages conservation and may include increasing block rates, seasonal rates, time of use rates, individualized goal rates, or excess use rates. The rate structure must consider each residential unit as an individual user in multiple-family dwellings, according to the state statute.

Public water suppliers must update their plan and, upon notification, submit it to the commissioner for approval every 10 years.

Park Rapids already has relatively high rates compared to some surrounding cities, Smith said. The proposal they came up with was to start with a lower rate for the first tier and increase the rate as water usage increases. The base rate would also increase.

In a tiered plan, some users will see a higher bill and others will see a lower bill, Smith said.

The city's administration will put together a proposed ordinance for a future council meeting July 28. For an ordinance change, there will need to be two readings.

Then, the proposal will be sent to the Department of Natural Resources for approval.