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Terrytown landowners must connect to city water
July 15, 2016 Jerry Purvis   

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Once Terrytown’s water system upgrade is completed, all property owners currently using wells, and any property with a structure on it will be required to link to the city water metering system.

City Engineer Jeff Wolfe told city council members that three businesses within Terrytown along 10th Street are currently using their own wells for water. That will change with the introduction of an ordinance outlining how property owners are charged for water and sewer services.

“Owners of vacant lots may choose not to hook up to city water now but it’s to their advantage while the city is picking up some of the cost,” Wolfe told council members. “If someone puts a structure on their vacant property after the project is completed, the owner will bear the entire cost of connection.”

Under terms of the ordinance, there will be a base rate for all water meters whether water is being used or not. The base rate will be determined by the size of water meter required for different sized buildings. Apartments require larger meters than houses.

Even city property isn’t exempt from water metering, as Terrytown is required to know its water consumption as part of conservation efforts.

Once the metering system is completed, landowners will be charged a base rate plus any water usage above an established monthly amount. Currently, the city charged a flat rate for water usage, regardless of amount.

“Our flat rate has cost the city a lot of money because it encourages waste,” said Mayor Kent Greenwalt. “We have one resident who turns on his water system every morning seven days a week, which is unnecessary. Another was watering twice a day, seven days a week.”

Greenwalt said only the Nebraska Public Power District, which supplies the electricity to run the system, benefits from the flat rate.

The initial phase of Terrytown’s project to revamp its water system is well underway. The city has submitted specifications to Gering for the water connections necessary for Gering to supply Terrytown with water. The specifications must also be reviewed by the state, which may take 60 to 90 days. “This fall, we’ll bid the project to connect with Gering’s water system and do the work this winter,” Wolfe told council members. “The second phase will start next spring when we get everyone hooked up to water meters.”

Still to be worked out is how bond funds will be distributed by the USDA. Under the current agreement, once Terrytown’s bonding is approved, all the funds are dispersed upfront. “The meter on the interest rate starts running immediately and we’d like to delay that funding as long as possible,” Wolfe said. “Our $300,000 share is already being paid out and we’re getting a block grant for $250,000. That’s more than enough to fund our connections with Gering.”
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