Freezing Weather Costs Municipalities More than Ever This Winter

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Rusty sewage pipe draining water during winter

It's been hard getting used to the blowing snow and the brutal cold, especially for municipality administrators like Daniel Guild.

"This is probably the hardest winter I've worked within a local government agency," Village of Weston Administrator Daniel Guild said.

Even if the cold is forcing the Village of Weston to pay out $1,500 a day for water usage, Guild said residents will get charged their average bill during this time instead of an overcharge for extra water.

"That means that consumers aren't picking up the cost of the water," Guild said.

But Weston is not alone.

In Kronenwetter, Public Works Director Duane Gau said they've spent about $26,000 just on thawing pipes this winter.

He said Kronenwetter has also used 211,000 more gallons of water than previous years.

But the price to keep up with the cold doesn't stop there.

In Schofield, City Clerk Lisa Reeves said they've spent $12,000 on thawing pipes.

Our coldest friends to the north are getting hit the worst.

Rhinelander Public Works Director Tim Kingman said this winter is costing them about $500,000 so far, and he said that is a conservative estimate.

That includes water usage, water main breaks and thawing pipes.

While the weather hurts the wallet for municipalities, it also takes a lot of work to keep them running.

"Working with water spewing and being wet in subzero temperatures, it is incredibly inconvenient and uncomfortable," Guild said.

Guild said when it comes to overall public money spent to keep up with it, that could be something to get used to, just like this weather.

"If I could issue an ordinance or declaration tomorrow to end it, I would happily do so," Guild said.

Kingman said he considers this winter a "catastrophic event."

He said he hopes Rhinelander can get some federal aid for that reason so residents won't have to pay.


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