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Water Works to offer online bill pay

The Creston City Water Works board of trustees voted unanimously to offer online bill pay to its customers during its regular meeting Tuesday evening.

With online bill pay, Water Works customers will be able to pay their water bills with debit or credit cards through the online service. The Water Works office will continue to accept payments by cash and check, but it will not accept card payments in office.

The software will cost $1,600 with a one-time set up fee of $800. Service fees will cost the city $5 per month and $0.10 per customer notification. Notifications would be in case of delinquencies or emergencies. Each instance of payment will cost 2.99 percent of the payment plus $1.25. After discussion, the board decided to pass the payment costs to the customers, but absorb the service fees. It was noted that this arrangement is typical in government offices, and the $0.10 notification cost is less than the current cost to mail a notice.

Creston Water Works will not be offering paperless billing at this time as the costs to set that up are substantially greater.

The board hopes to have the online payment system in place by mid-April.

Maintenance and repairs

Darin Jacobs of Snyder and Associates presented a plan for an ozone generator to replace the current system of chlorine dioxide.

Ozone is effective at controlling atrazine, heavy metals such as iron and manganese, giardia and cryptosporidium. It is a much quicker process than chlorine and leaves no residue in the water. The chlorine system would be kept as a back-up since it is already in place.

A two-unit ozone generator would cost approximately $1.3 million as opposed to a previous proposal of a reverse osmosis system which would cost $4.5 million.

Stephen Guthrie, Creston Water Works general manager explained that the board is looking at options which may be needed in the future.

Jacobs also discussed the costs of a second high-service pump station. This would allow for maintenance of the current station as it must be drained and dried in order to be repaired. This process takes months. Without a second pump station, water must be rerouted around the pump station using rented pumps and temporary piping.

Because the costs of the temporary fix would be significant, the board decided to look into using that money towards a second pump system. A second system would cost approximately $2.1 million and would utilize much of the existing piping and valves.

Guthrie discussed the steps taken and progress made on meeting the compliance agreement with Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

A letter to Southern Iowa Rural Water describing a seven percent rate increase was presented to the board for approval. It was approved unanimously.

Other business

The budget amendment with increases due to unaccounted for costs associated with the membrane project was approved.

In regular water works business, Guthrie stated that the hypochlorite project was completed. The water verification program was approved by the DNR. Other DNR compliance projects were also completed.

Voluntary monitoring of source water for cyanobacteria has begun. All four membranes have been inspected and repaired. The backwash lagoons are getting filled with sludge, which will result in a minor violation from the DNR. There is a plan in place to clean out the lagoons once the ground is more solid. Unaccounted waterloss for the month was four percent due to water leaks.

The board moved to closed session.

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