by ADAM GRUENEWALD
Hamburg residents shouldn’t be fooled when it comes to warm weather.
That was the message reiterated by members of the Hamburg City Council as they continued to wrestle with difficulties caused by frozen water lines during their meeting on Tuesday, March 11.
The problem is caused by the significant depth of frost in the streets which have frozen several water lines in the city and could impact more. Residents are reminded to keep water running at the stream of a pencil and residents will be charged what they paid last year for their water bill.
Public Works maintenance worker Greg Schultz said he has talked with the cities of Waconia and others about how they are handling the problem.
“Everybody is going through it,” he said. “It’s been a challenge. We’ve had notices for people to run it and hopefully people will follow that.”
Schultz added he is monitoring the amount of water in the city’s ponds as they are putting about 40,000 to 50,000 gallons of water, about twice the usual amount, due to increased usage.
Reminding council members of the expensive, and not always successful, jetting process that costs $200 an hour, City Clerk Jeremy Gruenhagen asked for alternative solutions.
“What I want to talk about is what are possible next steps?” he said, adding that using electricity should be viewed as a last resort. “What other measures can we take to make sure we provide water to these people?”
Increased temperatures could make it easier to use neighboring garden hoses, but digging up lines could cost between $2,500 and $5,000.
“You risk breaking a line and disrupting the main system too,” he said. “I’m kind of loss here. We’re throwing things into a hat and seeing what’s working right now, but I also think the city needs to think about what they’re going to do.”
While rising temperatures may ease some people’s minds, Gruenhagen said that wasn’t the case.
“I don’t think we’re out of the clear yet,” he said. “This is just the start of it. I’m hoping people are listening and are taking our notices seriously… If you see your neighbors, make sure they are running their water.”
Council members and Mayor Richard Malz all suggested increasing accountability for citizens by having them pay for costs if they don’t turn off their water.
“Why is we’re spending the time and effort to chase after those who are not paying attention?” he asked, referring to the two notices. “I think there should be another one that says if you don’t turn it off, you’re going to be held responsible.”
Council member Richard Odoms agreed, saying warmer weather is giving people a false sense of security.
“The problem is probably worse now than it has been in the past,” he said.
Council member Chris Lund agreed.
“This is an issue and despite the warm weather, it’s going to be an issue for a while,” he said. “It’s a small price to pay to have water.”
Council members approved a third notice to remind residents to continue to run their water despite the warm weather.
Also during the meeting, the council members also heard from Carver County Commissioner Jim Ische, who updated the council on several road projects in the area.
In addition to area several bridge projects this summer, including the one in Watertown, Ische said portions of County Road 33 will be paved this summer and Highway 5 will get a 4-inch mill.
In addition to road projects, Ische added that the city of Carver is putting in a park and ride with about 400 stalls, along with a housing project.
“Hopefully folks on this side of town will be able to utilize that,” he said, adding that bids have been awarded and the project should be completed by fall 2014.
Ische said he expected road work to be done in the Hamburg area in the next couple of years and, responding to questions by council members, he said he will continue to work on 212 expansion.
Council member Richard Odoms asked Ische whether he had heard anything regarding flood predictions for the spring.
“As of now they are saying there is not enough moisture,” he said, referring to weekly reports he receives. “Hopefully there will not be severe flooding, but time will tell.”
Also, Fire Chief Justin Buckentin reminded council of the upcoming town dance on March 22, the department’s Facebook page as well as concerns of ice on the southeast service door.
In other news, council members approved an ad for the annual NYA Area Guide, compensation for Gruenhagen for extra time and agreed to offer the Deputy Clerk position to Sharon Smith, while considering meter reading upgrades, the employee handbook, mosquito control and waste management contracts.
The Hamburg City Council will next meet on Tuesday, April 8, at 7 p.m. on where they will revisit some items and review the 2013 financial audit.
Contact Adam Gruenewald at firstname.lastname@example.org.