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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Peshtigo Utility Changes Water Disconnection Policies

Issue Date: July 24, 2014

City of Peshtigo residents at risk of having their water service disconnected for non-payment of bills will receive a 24 hour notice before the disconnection, according to an ordinance change considered by the Water and Sewer Committee at a meeting on Monday, July 21. 

The change is intended to encourage individuals to pay their delinquent accounts before disconnection.  Disconnections and reconnections of water service take a great deal of time by water service employees, and Utility Operations Director George Cowell wants to minimize the number of times these tasks must be performed. 

Cowell told the Committee that the 10 percent penalty doesn’t cover the cost of providing these services. Every quarter, Cowell stated, a couple of customers get turned off for a while.

In another possible change to the disconnection policies, any requests to reconnect water service after paying the overdue bills must be received by 2:55 P.M. to avoid the after hours fee.  Customers can wait until the next business day to be reconnected if they wish to avoid the after hours rates. Utility workers normally finish their workdays at 3 P.M., and any hours worked after that time accrue at an overtime rate.

In other business, the committee directed Cowell to pursue the purchase of a new pick-up truck for the utility through the Wisconsin state bidding process. The new vehicle, with a standard cab, full sized bed and four wheel drive, would replace a 1999 Dodge Ram which has become more unreliable in recent months. It is expected to cost about $21,000 or $22,000. A used vehicle would cost about as much as one acquired through the state bidding process.

The state of Wisconsin has granted the utility a Water Flouridation Quality Award for its diligent work in maintaining proper levels of fluoride in water provided to its customers. The state complimented the department for its program of taking weekly samples to test for fluoride and sending a split sample of the same water to the state testing lab.

Cowell told the committee that his department has replaced several fire hydrants and flushed them to prepare for use. The new hydrants include one on Oconto Avenue at Lake Street that was hit by a car. The department will file an insurance claim to recover the cost of replacing that hydrant. Utility workers have also flushed hydrants in the northwest corner of the city.

Cowell also reported that utility employees are inspecting cross connections and he hopes to have all of these inspections completed by the end of August. He also requested approval to seek bids from local engineering consultants about repair and replacement of the roof at the water plant.

Secretary Anita Morois reported that the utility’s cash flow was negative. The red ink is accruing in spite of the fact that only 55 customers are behind on their bills, compared with 80 to 100 delinquencies at this time during most years.

Chairperson Thomas Grzywa presided. The Committee will meet next on Monday, Aug. 11 at 9 A.M.


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