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St. Paul Park to reimburse for extra water usage

Following the lead of neighboring cities, St. Paul Park is expected to reimburse residents who ran their water this winter in an attempt to avoid frozen pipes.

The St. Paul Park City Council unanimously supported a reimbursement program recently to assist the nearly 80 homeowners who experienced frozen water lines over the winter.

As the city’s Public Works Department continues to read water meters, reimbursement will be determined by comparing this year’s water usage rates with the previous year.

In February, the city sent out a mass notification to residents to run a pencil-thin stream of water to help keep pipes from freezing. While some residents ran water through the end of April, homeowners have said their monthly water bills have skyrocketed.

“This is very rare,” Public Works Director Rob Weldon said at the beginning of the year. “Services like this don’t normally freeze up this often or this many times in one winter.”

St. Paul Park resident Doug Pierro, who first approached the city earlier this year, told the council that he has lived in his home for more than three decades and has never experienced frozen water lines.

City Administrator Kevin Walsh said the meters will continue to be read and that residents shouldn’t expect an immediate reimbursement. He added that more data needs to be collected before determining how much assistance should be given to each resident.

“We will be doing more readings,” Walsh said. “Residents were given the OK to discontinue running water earlier this week.”

On average, the city of St. Paul Park deals with about a dozen lots each year that experience frozen pipes.

St. Paul Park residents are to contact City Hall if they have been running extra water this winter in order to be considered for reimbursement.

The city of Newport is waiving excess water fees for residents that request it, and similarly, officials are comparing the averages monthly water bills to the previous year to determine an accurate reimbursement amount. Currently Cottage Grove is not reimbursing homeowners.