Businesses in Britt using fire hydrants, as a bulk water supply, may soon find they will be paying for that water based on installed meters.

The Britt City Council is looked at locking up and metering those fire hydrants during their meeting on Tuesday, June 18.

According to Mayor Ryan Arndorfer there is at least one business in town that has been using water from the hydrants in large quantities for the last several years and has been on an honor system for the water utility bills.

When asked, after the meeting, which businesses were using the fire hydrants for water, Britt City Clerk Debra Sawyer stated at this time the city was not disclosing the names of those businesses.

“They have supposedly been on an honor system of where they tell us how many gallons [they’ve used] and then we would bill them,” Arndorfer said. “Now we’re still looking into how that actually worked as far as billing because [Sawyer] could not find any record of payments other than their standard water bill, so we’re doing some digging to find any separate payments.”

Since the business has been buying the water in bulk, Arndorfer said the city had to discuss what the bulk water rates were and if council members thinks they need to have “a better handle on how things work.”

“I personally think it should be a metered thing,” Arndorfer said. “That meter costs $2,000 to put on a hydrant…If we’re going to sell water at any rate, it should be a metered thing.”

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Arndorfer said the bulk rate used for water coming out of a hydrant is $50 for the first 1,000 gallons and $10 for every 1,000 gallons afterwards.

If the person buying the water uses the city hose and wrench, it’s another $25, and if they dump the water into the city sewers, there is a $50 service charge plus $12.50 for every 1,000 gallons dumped.

However, according to Arndorfer, that is not reflected in any Britt ordinance but instead is written on a paper somewhere on deputy city clerk Staci Ball’s desk.

“One, we need to have bulk water rates if we’re going to have a separate rate other than the above 20,000 gallons; we need to add that to an ordinance,” Arndorfer said. “Two, I think if we’re going to have someone who’s doing this on a regular basis, it needs to be metered in.”

According to Arndorfer, right now residents pay $3.67 per 1,000 gallons after the first 20,000 gallons of water.

“They’re paying a lot more for bulk water rates than [residents are] paying. A lot more,” Arndorfer said.

Though the council looked at a bid listing of various meters and backflow preventors, which are currently not installed in the hydrants, presenting a problem of possible contamination, ranging from $1,000 to $3,800, the city council tabled their decision on metering and locking up the fire hydrants until their next meeting.

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