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Water rates in Park Falls expected to jump after mill closure

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Ben Meyer/WXPR
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Dozens of community members came out to the Park Falls Public Library Tuesday night, to hear Mayor Michael Bablick address the future of water utility in the city.

Water utility customers in the city of Park Falls could be looking at a 74.33% increase in water rates, possibly $75 a quarter.

It's a price hike officials blame on the permanent closure of the Park Falls Paper Mill.

"This utility was beholden to the mill, there was a good chance it was going away, we did everything we could to keep it because of this issue." said Mayor Michael Bablick.

That issue being, despite the mill being closed and no longer a water utility customer, the city has to keep utility up. That's due to a contract, but also due to potential hazards to the city, which is all due to an ongoing agreement with the DNR made years ago.

"A lot of heartache, this has caused a lot of problems to this town beyond just money." said Bablick.

Part of those hazards were bursting and freezing pipes. Some areas located near older water mains will actually have to dispose of gallons of water to ensure pipes don't burst, causing more potential problems.

The gallons of water that will be wasted is something community members are not happy about.

"I want to talk about this water waste, why don't we do something with it, like send it to a bottling company." said a community member

Other community members were angry, questioning why their city should have to pay for a problem they didn't cause.

"Why is there not a way to go back to the DNR, who has lots and lots of funding, and lots of different sources, to not only pay for the problems they caused here but correct them?" said another community member.

As far as the water rate hike, that's in the hands of the Wisconsin Public Service.

They're hosting a public informational virtual meeting on July 7th, at 3 p.m.

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