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Verndale backs off on $4,288 water bill

The Verndale City Council decided Monday night to reduce but not forgive a water and sewer bill of $4,288 caused by a water leak.

The council had decided at its March meeting to send a bill to the owners of the former Redeemer Lutheran Church building at 306 N. Brown St. after a water leak left the city pumps running and 670,000 gallons of city water eventually ended up back in the sewer system.

A representative of the church building's owner, George Miller, wrote to the council and said the bill was "totally unreasonable." Miller said the owners of the building were not to blame for the leak, and he blamed the gas company. He asked the city to forgive the bill.

"The water leak wasted a great deal of water but it cost the City of Verndale very little," Miller wrote.

The council did back off charging the church building owners with the cost of 670,000 gallons of water. However, City Maintenance Supervisor Jim Bergquist calculated the cost to the city of more than $600 for the electricity to run the pump for the water and to remove the wastewater, as well as chemicals to treat the 670,000 gallons.

The city also suffered a flood at its lift station during the leak, but decided not to bill the church building owners for that.

"If we can recover the costs, it probably wouldn't be quite as bad," said council member Louie Randall.