Cities offering rebates to curb freeze-ups

The long, cold winter has left deep frost that’s wreaking water main havoc from Ely to Winona. Cities, in turn, are urging homeowners to keep water running and they’re backing up their pleas with dollars.

Winona’s City Council approved a measure last week that would reimburse homeowners $140 if they keep their water running though next month. Winona’s longtime Water Department Superintendent Bob Dunn said the high school suffered a freeze-up last week, three other water-main breaks have required crews to dig through the frozen ground and more than 90 homes have reported frozen pipes — eclipsing by three times the old record of 38 in 2008.

More than 300 miles north in Ely, city leaders have called a “water main emergency” and have asked residents to run a pencil-sized stream of water flowing continuously from one sink until spring. To offset higher water bills, Ely will take the average water usage from earlier winters when calculating expenses this winter.



Secret donor kicks in $130,000 for stage

An anonymous donor will contribute half the cost for a new $260,000 performance stage along Lake George in St. Cloud, according to Steve Joul, president of the Rotary Club. The city will pay the other half for the stage, which will be used for Summertime by George! programs every Wednesday next summer, plus other events.



EPA grant aimed at zoo’s stormwater

Duluth is the first of 16 cities to land a $250,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency for Great Lakes water quality enhancements. The city’s Lake Superior Zoo will be targeted for a green stormwater management program, along with similar projects at Atlas Industrial Brownfield and Chambers Grove parks.