Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, May 7, 2001

Water overwhelms HL treatment plant

By Lynda Jensen

Recent spring rains helped to fill at least six Howard Lake basements with about a foot of water last weekend, as noted during the Howard Lake Council meeting last Monday.

Six-and-a-half times the usual amount of water went through the city treatment plant, with an undetermined amount directed through a bypass added to handle the flow, said Public Works Foreman Tom Goepfert.

City crews pumped more than one million gallons per day through the bypass during a three-day period, starting April 22, to alleviate the overwhelmed treatment plant, Goepfert said.

The city used a pump borrowed from the City of Cokato. "We would have been up a crick," if Cokato needed its pump, Goepfert said.

This is the most flow seen since 1990, Councilor Shelly Reddemann said.

Reddemann's home along Fourth Avenue was one of the homes flooded, along with several of his neighbors, he said.

"After you've had a foot of water in your basement, it's hard to take," Reddemann said.

The Howard Lake Fire Department came to their rescue, pumping out water from the basement and manhole on the street, Reddemann said. The manhole was one foot from being full, he said.

Councilors spent nearly an hour discussing the issue.

Howard Lake has some major problems in its sewer system, agreed City Engineer Brad DeWolf.

The culprit is large amounts of surface water that is infiltrating the city sewer system, DeWolf said.

"The problem is twofold," DeWolf said. Some of the water is coming from sump pumps or footing drains under homes, which are allowing rain water into the city sewer system, and some water is coming from bad sewer lines, De Wolf said.

Draining water into the city sanitary sewer lines is against city ordinance and punishable by a $200 per month fine, according to Clerk Gene Gilbert.

Even though this is the law, the ordinance fell apart after it was enacted a few years ago because people had a hard time finding contractors to do the work, Borglund said.

A long-term capital improvement plan has been in the planning stages for some time, DeWolf said.

DeWolf, Tom Goepfert, and City Administrator Doug Borglund will meet with Reddemann to pursue the capital improvement plan.

Goepfert and DeWolf cautioned the city to remember that replacing sewer lines that leak surface water would not solve the problem. Sooner or later, the city will have to deal with individual property owners who are draining storm water into the system, Goepfert said.

If the city replaces sewer lines, it might as well replace curb and gutters as well, Borglund said. The cost would be assessed to individual property owners.

The council discussed several solutions to the problem, including different kinds of plumbing solutions that homeowners can use that would solve the problem.

"It's up to homeowners to make sure they're not hooked up," Mayor Gerry Smith said.

Goepfert suggested contacting Art Jordan, since Jordan was involved with televising sewer lines in Stewart, Minn. The process involves using a remote camera through the sewer pipes, which can visually see if water is improperly entering the system from each home, Goepfert said.

In Stewart, if the property owner is connected improperly and adding storm water to the sewer lines, that person was charged for the cost of the televised tracking, Goepfert said. Otherwise, the city paid for televising the lines.

Another way to find out if homeowners are adding water to the sewer system is to do a dye test, to track the water's origin, Goepfert said.

Neighborhood meetings will be planned, to be incorporated in the long term planning.

New bakery may take former Werner space

A new bakery may take up residence on most of the main floor of the new building to be constructed where the former Werner Hardware building used to be, said developer Mike Deutz, St. Joseph.

Deutz is working with two young ladies, one a schoolteacher and the other a daycare provider, who are interested in setting up shop, he said.

The upper level apartments appear to be rented out as well, Deutz said, with one person who is interested in doing caretaking as well.

This leaves 1,000 sq. feet in the back of the main floor for commercial space, but this should not be hard to rent out, Deutz said.

Councilor Don Danford asked Deutz to pass his name along to the ladies if they needed assistance, since Danford has worked for 32 years in the baking business, he said.

Auditor says city is in great shape; credits the liquor store

The Municipal Liquor Store set another record year in sales, with gross sales of $900,000 in 2000.

Of this amount, $100,000 was transferred to the city's general fund, said CPA Matthew Mayer, of the accounting firm Kern DeWenter, Viere of St. Cloud.

From an operating viewpoint, without the liquor store, the city would be breaking even, Mayer said.

This means that this city is keeping a balanced budget, Borglund pointed out, and showing strong financial management.

"The city is doing very well," Borglund.

The liquor store is in the process of tracking what percentage of sales come from the on sale and off sale, Mayer said.

Recent information at the last council meeting showed the sales to be evenly split between the

The gross profit percentage is 32.19 percent, which is slightly down from last year, 33.81 percent. Previously, a different auditor suggested increasing prices to even this number.

Reddemann asked Mayer if the gross profit number was good.

Mayer indicated that it was, since consistent numbers in the 30th percentile, showed healthy profits for this particular store. Other stores, such as along the North Shore, can get away with as high as 40 to 45 percent, he said, while liquor stores in the Twin Cities go down to 20 or 25 percent because they have more competition.

"It depends on the market forces," he said. Mayer has been working with Liquor Store Manager Ruth Voight for a long time and she has a good head on her shoulders, he said. "I trust her abilities. She knows what's going on," he added.

As a result of that revenue, the city is in very good financial health, he said, having a nine-month reserve of funds, of which only six months would normally be recommended.

The water and sewer fund has also turned around. Before 1999, the city operated this fund at a loss, but since the water rates were adjusted, this made the water and sewer fund balance out, he said.

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