The recent frigid temperatures have caused concern about a huge spike in gas and electric bills. But people who left water dripping to keep the lines from freezing could also see bigger water bills.
Arkansas City commissioner Duane Oestmann said Monday that the commission has not discussed the problem, but he thinks it needs to be looked into.
“The minimum bill is like 3,000 gallons per month, so we’d probably have to look at it and see how much increase there was,” he said.
Oestmann said he would likely bring the subject up during the commission work session Friday.
“Until we look at it, if it’s an enormous amount, I don’t know what we would do,” he said. “It would have to be something that the whole commission is in consensus of doing.”
Commissioner Karen Welch said that customers who were struggling with an increase to their water bills should contact the city.
“We work with a lot of people no matter what the weather,” she said.
City Manager Randy Frazer said late Monday afternoon that the city does have a plan in place. He said when the billing is run; an exception report will be generated listing those with higher than normal usage.
“Hopefully anyone who had a real large problem, like a water line break, those will be caught well before the bill goes out,” he said. “If there’s something that’s way out of normal, we’ll definitely be working with people on that.”
Frazer said if someone does get a bill that they feel is extremely high and needs some help, the city will try to work with them.
City Manager Taggart Wall said Monday he didn’t have an answer as to how the city would handle that problem. Winfield is struggling with a huge increase in the cost of the gas used to fuel the city-owned power plant.
Mayor Greg Thompson said the city would need to review the amount of water usage for that period and determine how much it had increased.
“Winter usage is so low,” he said. “Now with burst pipes, there may be some remedies that can come from some things like that, I don’t know what we typically do.”
“That is a concern,” he added.
Thompson said he did not think that the cost increase from dripping faucets would be that noticeable.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a faucet dripping at the rate of one drip per second will waste more than 3,000 gallons per year, an average of 8.2 gallons per day.
That cost adds up even more when both hot and cold faucets are allowed to drip.