Government

Cedar Rapids pays fine for 2017 trout kill in McLoud Run

3 council members named to city-school facilities committee

A dead fish is caught on rocks and twigs in McLoud Run in northeast Cedar Rapids on Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017. More than 2,000 fish died in the stream after a valve in a 16-inch city water main failed Monday afternoon during construction near the McLoud Bridge. The treated water contains chloramine, which is harmful to fish. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
A dead fish is caught on rocks and twigs in McLoud Run in northeast Cedar Rapids on Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017. More than 2,000 fish died in the stream after a valve in a 16-inch city water main failed Monday afternoon during construction near the McLoud Bridge. The treated water contains chloramine, which is harmful to fish. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Taxpayers are footing the bill — for now — for the inadvertent discharge of chlorinated drinking water into McLoud Run, a creek in northeast Cedar Rapids.

The discharge contributed to the death of some 1,300 trout on July 31, 2017. The incident occurred on the watch of a subcontractor, Iowa Bridge and Culvert of Washington, during construction of a new bridge on McLoud Place over McLoud Run, according to city officials.

A valve on a 16-inch city water main failed, sending “several hundred thousands of gallons” of treated drinking water into the stream, The Gazette reported last year.

To satisfy an Iowa Department of Natural Resources consent order, the City Council agreed to pay $22,805 for fish restitution and investigation and $2,000 to the Linn County Conservation Board for a supplemental environmental project in lieu of administrative penalty.

The city plans to seek reimbursement from the contractor at a future date, city engineer Nate Kampman said. The project remains under contract, he added.

School committee

City Council members Susie Weinacht, Ashley Vanorny and Marty Hoeger have been appointed to a city-school district study committee focused on stabilizing neighborhoods where eight elementary schools are slated to closed as part of a sweeping school facilities plan.

School board members Mary Meisterling, Rafael Jacobo and Jennifer Borcherding were also appointed, along with Superintendent Brad Buck and Jon Galbraith, manager of buildings and grounds.

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The committee also has room for two city staff members. No one has been named to those roles, but multiple city employees are expected to provide support and information, according to city staff.

The committee was formed after city leaders began questioning the lack of outside input in the school facilities plan.

Slated for closure are Garfield, Grant Wood, Kenwood, Madison, Nixon, Taylor, Truman and Van Buren. Another 10 elementaries will be razed and rebuilt, and the last three will be remodeled over the next 15 to 20 years.

Notably absent from the committee are council member Dale Todd and school board member Gary Anhalt, who both had questioned the school facilities plan.

Todd, whose district includes Taylor and Grant Wood, said he did not request to be on the committee. But in a letter, Todd called on his colleagues to demonstrate revitalization efforts have led to population increases in certain areas and “to make the case to keep certain neighborhood schools on the chopping block open.”

Utility rates

The City Council also has approved a 3.7 percent overall increase to utility rates to pay for upgrades and operating costs to the city’s water, wastewater and stormwater management infrastructure.

The increase will amount to an extra $40.92 a year for a typical home customer, officials said.

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