The City of Redwood Falls may be facing a Catch-22 type of decision in the near future. Currently, the city is recording an average of 46 gallons of water per day at the residential level, which is below the state average of 52 gallons per day.

According to Jim Doering, city public works project coordinator, that usage is on a downward trend, which he said is very positive. Doering stated there are several reasons for the downward trend, as he said many homes are utilizing more conservation practices to help reduce the amount of water being consumed. That, said Doering is a very good thing. 

In fact, Doering added the commercial usage is also below the state average. Another factor that has helped to reduce water usage in the community is the new water plant that has provided softer water for the residents.

Doering presented the usage information to the Redwood Falls city council Oct. 3 at its regular meeting as part of the local water supply plan the city is required submit to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The plan, which presents a variety of information from the state of the current water sources for the city, as well as usage at the residential and commercial levels, is intended to help the city plan for long-term water sustainability and conservation measures as well as to ensure an emergency preparedness plan is in place that would address any potential water crisis.

While the downward usage trend in terms of conservation is a good thing, the reality, said Doering, is that reduced usage also poses a challenge for the city, as it means less revenue is coming in to cover the costs of providing that water.

“As usage goes down the amount of revenue also goes down,” said Missi Meyer, city finance and administrative services director.

What that means in the long term is that the city may be looking at an across the board rate increase to help cover the ever increasing costs and the reduction in revenue.

While the City of Redwood Falls is currently in very good shape regarding water usage and availability it must consider the long-term program as it makes decisions that best help the city as a whole into the future.

In other action during its meeting Tuesday, the city council:

• Held a discussion with residents of the Meadow Lane neighborhood who have been experiencing sewer backups as a result of recent heavy rains. The issue became very apparent in August when the city experienced a nine-inch rain event, but even this past Monday night’s rainfall was causing some backups in homes. The city council met with residents last week to talk about potential solutions, and Keith Muetzel, city administrator, said since then city staff has been exploring options and is investigating what is causing the issues.

Muetzel said the city plans to conduct a smoke test on the lines in that area to determine any issues in the city’s infrastructure. Darryl Rice, who spoke on behalf of the residents in attendance, said the city needs to find a solution, not just provide a band-aid fix, adding he and others will continue to come before the council until a good solution is found. “You need to have a plan that we are comfortable with,” said Rice.

In the meantime, Muetzel encouraged those who live in that area to pump any water that is coming into their homes onto the street, rather than in backyards, as there are low spots in that area which are causing some of issues for those residents. John Buckley, city council member, said he sympathizes with the residents, adding the city is doing what it can to make things right for the people in that neighborhood.

• Declared the fire pits from the Ramsey Park campground as surplus property and authorized the sale of them. The fire pits in the park are being replaced through funds donated to the city, and 15 of the old pits will be available for sale.

• Approved the purchase of a Spectrum GlideScope as requested by the Redwood Area Hospital at a cost of $18,107.04.

• Approved the purchase of two Neptune 3 Rovers as requested by the Redwood Area Hospital at a cost of $32,689. The waste management system is used to manage surgical fluids.

• Approved the purchase of a Hamilton Medical Vizient invasive ventilator as requested by the Redwood Area Hospital at a cost of $15,734.88.

• Approved the final pay reimbursement to Zero Ground Services for the Ramsey Park walking path renovations for $44,083.75. The final contract price for the park project was $865,742.

Photo courtesy of the Internet public domain