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Berne extends ‘sprinkling’ rate

June 27, 2012

Gwen Maller

    Unusually dry conditions in Berne during have led to some exorbitant monthly water bills as homeowners try to keep their lawns and gardens alive.
    And members of the city council on Monday agreed to give those heavy users a break.
    Clerk-treasurer Gwen Maller reported that utility bills will go out July 1 for May water useage. She noted that "quite a few water bills are pretty high" for the month, including one resident whose monthly water and sewage bill was nearly $800, and another that was $400.
    The city of Berne, Maller said, each year provides a three-month window of reduced "sprinkling rates" during June, July and August, when high temperatures and reduced rainfall typically forces homeowners to use more water. Residential water rates during those months are based on homeowners' useage during the winter months, the clerk-treasurer said.
    But because of the lingering drought that began in May and has affected most of the state and many areas throughout the Midwest, the city council voted to add an additional month to this year's "sprinkling rate" time frame.
    Maller said homeowners will see the reduction on their next bill. She estimated, for example, that the homeowner who originally faced an $800 bill will see that amount lowered to less than $270, and what would have been a $400 monthly charge will now be $160.

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