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Kenai council talks increased water use

Posted: December 7, 2012 - 8:59am  |  Updated: December 7, 2012 - 2:55pm

Kenai residents are using about 100,000 more gallons of water daily this winter than past winters, City Manager Rick Koch said at Wednesday’s Kenai City Council meeting.

Most winters the city uses about 800,000 gallons of water daily, but this winter the city is pumping more than 900,000 gallons to homes, Koch said.

“Not a small increase; it’s fairly substantial,” he said.

Koch estimates the city pays $25,000 to $35,000 more per month as a result of the increase.

“There are some incremental cost (increases), but not so much,” Koch said. “It’s really just the electricity to run the pumps for 100,000 gallons and the chemicals that treat the water.”

The city’s facility can pump 625 gallons a minute, so to satisfy the new demand it has to pump another 160 minutes a day, he said.

The city will not run out of water in its 3 million gallon reservoir, Koch said.

“It’s not a big deal,” he said.

Koch said the more than 100,000 gallons of water per day is flowing down residents’ drains, because most run faucets longer in the cold.

“The catalyst for that is that people are worried about water lines freezing,” he said, “because it’s been really cold and there hasn’t been very much snow to insulate the ground.”

Three or four feet of snow slows the frost that would otherwise creep into the ground and freeze water lines on subzero days, he said.

Also at the city council meeting, Kenai Safari Club International President Mike Crawford said he has concerns for duck hunting opportunities in the flats along Bridge Access if the city builds a wildlife viewing platform, as part of its Estuary Rehabilitation Project.

He said hunting in the flats has been a part of the city’s culture for a long time, and he hopes a wildlife viewing platform would not inhibit hunting there.

Koch said the city will consider many user groups’ opinions when the city closes on the project.

City Council agreed also Dec. 19 from 5-6:30 p.m. to meet to discuss in a work session the city's application for a $2.3 million state loan.

The state revolving door loan — Retrofit Energy Assessment for Loans — offers loans from a $250 million coffer to cities to investigate ways to make public buildings more energy efficient.

“And there is a guarantee that the performance of the improvements will save enough revenue that it pays off the loans,” Koch said.

Kenai is the first city to apply for the loan, and it has been working with contractors for about a year and a half designing energy-efficient options for buildings, he said.

“We’re getting close to the time were we’re going to pull the trigger on the project,” he said.

The council will also meet in a work session on Jan. 7 at 6 p.m. in City Hall to discuss potential rises in dipnet fishery user fees.

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