RPU to assist homeowners required to run water. Because many of the people running water save RPU money because they were service assured subscribers, this probably saved RPU money.
As you know this winter has resulted in a number of water service line freeze ups. In February RPU began communicating with customers, and recommending , if their water temperature was below 40 degrees, they run their water continuously to keep the service from freezing. Recently, with the high individual customer water use, RPU and Public works have been getting calls regarding high bills because of the high water use. Since the sewer bill is based on water use, some ( a few hundred) customers experienced very high sewer bills. RPU had been discussing what we may do to help with these high bills, on the water side. It seems providing a credit based on last year’s average use was the most accurate and fair approach, that could be based on actual numbers.
Last week we received an e-mail from City Administration (see below) recommending adjusting the water and sewer bills that have been impacted by the cold weather. Staff has been meeting to discuss the situation, the recommended approach, and how we might implement such an adjustment. The recommended adjustment will be made from the list of customers that have called RPU and let us know they are running their water. This can be verified by a use comparison check. the decision was made to make a onetime adjustment, probably in May, based on average (water and sewer) use in the winter months in 2013, and adjusted from metered usage in February, March and April of this year. (We believe customers will continue to run water into April as the frost depth reported by MnDOT is not receding. We will communicate this to these customers via letter, and of course if they call RPU. Operations has reported not all frozen water services are thawed, and we did get one frozen service report yesterday.
This adjustment, to date, will involve approximately 1600 customers that have called RPU. We have also analyzed the cost benefit of this adjustment, and have determined it is appropriate based on projected cost saving to RPU. These savings come from not having to repair or clear water services that could have been frozen, from those customers that have service assured. Operations has also strong belief running some of these services has prevented some water mains from freezing, thus deferring potential main repairs. We will be communication this approach to City Finance and Public Works so they may plan accordingly.
Let me know if you have any questions