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Morris council says need to change water system for outside users

File Photo/Stevens County Times

The city of Morris's water isn't just sold to residents and businesses connected to city water lines. The water is also sold to farmers and various businesses that may need water to spray fields or water for a lawn care business. The water may also be sold to pool owners.

City officials said at an Aug. 22 city council meeting, that the city can continue to sell the water to those types of customers, but it needs a better system to record those sales.

The current system requires buyers to log their name and gallons bought when water is purchased. That system is labor intensive, said city financial director Deb Raasch. Those customers do pay a higher rate for water than customers connected to city water lines, Raasch said.

"It's a bookkeeping nightmare," Raasch said of the current system. Some users do not record their addresses or the addresses and gallons sold are not legible, she said.

The discussion happened as the city council was talking about the new water treatment plant under construction.

Council member Brian Solvie said several farmers have asked him if the city would sell water to farmers when the new plant is completed.

City officials discussed whether or not the city had an obligation to sell water to customers other than those on the city system.

"Is it our job, no, but we can do do it," mayor Sheldon Giese said. But, Giese said, there has to be a better way to sell that water.

The city did have a vending system in which buyers deposited quarters but that system wore out.

Cities such as Willmar and Benson use a debit and credit card swipe system, city manager Blaine Hill said.

Raasch said a card system costs money to operate but the city would build that cost into the cost of the water.

Several city officials said the city could also use a membership card that could be scanned when water is purchased.

Solvie said he'd talk with farmers to learn if they would be aggreable to a card system that could raise the rates they'd pay for water.