Recently North Branch Water & Light made the decision to wind down the utility and transferred all water management to the city of North Branch Public Works Department.

My number one goal has been and continues to be to increase efficiencies of the water department with my ultimate goal with reducing our water rates. We listened to the concerns of citizens that water rates are high. The facts show from a study commissioned by the city’s EDA that the water rates are high. I have been working over the past two months to increase efficiencies of the water department in order find ways to reduce water rates. This list of efficiencies and outcomes include:

• Improving Billing Efficiency. Before it took two people a week to read all the water meters in the city. We are updating meters using technology to read meters remotely. This technology is used in most cities and should take two people one day to read water meters – improving efficiency.

• We are monitoring bills. If we noticed a significant change, we call and let the homeowner know as a leaky toilet can mean a huge water bill and a terrible use of water resources.

• Water Tower 2 rehab project is complete, which included a new paint job, inside and out along with the updated city logo and it looks great, but the better part is there are many more years of use from this water tower. Maintenance of a water tower is similar to maintenance of your vehicle or home, a good maintenance plan will add more years of service and more long term economic efficiencies.

• The two water employees are now city of North Branch employees. Crossing training of water employees and public works employees has and will continue to occur. For the North Branch taxpayer, this has reduced the need for two new public works employees which is a taxpayer savings. This provided the water employees with a better work life balance. Before they were on-call every other week, now every 12 weeks.

• The Water Policy Plan is being updated. Water as we all know is a very precious resource that we need to manage well for our future. The Water Policy Plan covers important areas including: wellhead protection, water treatment and capacity, trend analysis, plans for emergencies, and future water planning.

So, increasing efficiencies is one of many ideas I am implementing to bring the water rates down. The entire Public Works team with our new water department will continue to explore new options for efficiencies for our customers.

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