Rochester Public Utilities | Blog

Archive for January, 2014

Cold weather tips to help protect your water service

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

RPU Cold Weather Tips


·    Customers who have experienced frozen water services in the past, or who know their service is susceptible to freezing, should begin monitoring the temperature and condition of their water. Taking your water’s temperature is a simple way to avoid a costly problem. If the water temperature reaches 35° Fahrenheit, or if water sporadically appears rusty, then the water service could be in danger of freezing.

o   To reduce the possibility of a water service giving in to the cold weather, let a tap or faucet flow continuously with the water stream about as wide as a pencil. This will allow about one-quarter gallon per minute to run through the pipes in a home, thus reducing the likelihood of a freeze-up of the water service.

o   The cost of constantly running one-quarter gallon per minute is about $10.30 per month. Customers who turn on their water for this purpose should call RPU at 280-1500 to discuss the increased water usage.

·    Customers who have outside faucets should make sure garden hoses are disconnected so the faucet can drain properly.

o   If left connected, the faucets will not drain and can freeze and break. The line usually breaks in the wall so the first sign of a problem is water running through the wall.


·    Customers who live in mobile homes should make sure their heat tape is turned on and working properly. If the heat tape is turned off or malfunctioning, the pipes and water meter can freeze and break. 


·    If there is exposed plumbing in closets or cabinets on an outside wall, open doors and let warm air from your home circulate into the closet to prevent frozen pipes. Also, make sure the furnace cold air return is not pointing toward your water service lines.



·    If you are leaving your home for an extended time, please contact RPU with the dates you will be gone. Also leave a name and phone number of a person in the area who would know how to reach you in case of a utility emergency at your home. To ensure safety and protection while you are away, you may also consider turning your water off at the valve located near the water meter.


·    If you would like bills forwarded to your winter or temporary address, please give us that address.


·    Drive safe in RPU work zones. Water crews are working in freezing conditions this time of year and that can affect your ability to control your vehicle. Please slow down and use caution.

Individuals and Organizations to be recognized for Environmental Achievements in the Community

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

Rochester Public Utilities (RPU) and the Olmsted County Environmental Commission announce the recipients of the 2013 Environmental Achievement Awards. The recipients will be recognized at an awards banquet on January 23 at the Rochester Golf and Country Club. The awards honor individuals, organizations, schools and businesses that have made a significant contribution in 2013 towards environmental quality in any of the following categories: renewable efforts, conservation, energy, water, agriculture, education, and other.


The 2013 recipients are:


Sue Jansen

Sue Jansen leads by example in conserving, reusing, repurposing, and recycling. Her residence is maintained as a working example of living lightly on the earth. Water is conserved through strategically-placed rain gardens, rain barrels, permeable pavers, and water-smart grasses. Mulch provides most of the nutrients for garden and orchard food production, and native plantings are interspersed throughout the property. She is also working to transform her neighborhood association’s 11-acre common space into a native refuge for plants, pollinators, and wildlife.


Sister Joy Barth

Promoting water conservation is a passion for Sister Joy. “Without water there is no life” is a quote Sister Joy lives by. To conserve water and decrease waste and runoff, she and the Sisters of Assisi Heights have planted five acres of prairie grass, constructed permeable paver parking lots, installed rain barrels, and retrofitted water-conserving plumbing fixtures. She regularly speaks in schools and to community groups about the benefits of conserving water and reducing waste.


Bob Mapel

Bob Mapel is a retired teacher who volunteers at Quarry Hill Nature Center and at the Olmsted County Waste-to-Energy Facility. Bob has chosen to continue his work helping people learn about nature and thus connect with it through the many programs he assists with at the Nature Center. He has the ability to draw students and visitors into conversation, sharing his knowledge and passion for the environment, and answering countless questions about the many facets of our natural world.


Kelly Leibold and Anika Hooyer

These two Pine Island High School students have developed a booklet and guided trail map titled “The Pine Trail: An Environmental Discovery of Pine Island”. The booklet highlights three main areas of focus for participants: education, opportunity, and activity. The guided trail map takes travelers around the city to learn about the area’s environmental treasures and resources.

Nate & Sandy Redalen

The Redalens are long time environmentally active owner and operators of a beef cattle farm along the Root River in Pleasant Grove Township. They work with Federal, State, and local agencies on erosion control, rotational grazing, and livestock watering. They have adapted practices to protect steep slopes, shoreline, and water quality of the river, as well as a large spring and other riparian features. They are instrumental in encouraging and cooperating with research on runoff management and other environmental practices.


Mechanical History Round Table

The Mechanical History Round Table members provide the community with an exhibit of how farming was done during the period when there were few chemical inputs in agriculture. The farmland owned by the Olmsted County Historical Society lies within one of the city of Rochester’s Wellhead Protection Areas, and the Round Table members farm the land using practices that help assure ground water protection.


Master Gardeners of Olmsted County

The Master Gardeners provide education on the value of native plants, practices to reduce storm water runoff, proper lawn care, and other topics that help minimize pollutant-laden storm water runoff from reaching our waterways. Gardeners teach classes and workshops on wise lawn-chemical use, planting native plants and rain gardens, and avoiding invasive species.


Kutzky Park Neighborhood Association

Every year on the third Saturday in April and October, this neighborhood association rallies together to clean up their neighborhood including Kutzky Park which runs along Cascade Creek. During each event, neighbors on foot, in waders, and in kayaks focus on cleaning the open green space, the bike path system, and Cascade Creek. On average, they collect 20 to 25 garbage bags full of litter including miscellaneous items such as a shopping cart, sink, and old tires.


People’s Food Co-op

The newly opened People’s Food Co-op integrates many green building features including natural day lighting, high efficiency lighting, conserving water fixtures, and an integrated heating, ventilating, air conditioning, and refrigeration system. Additionally, construction materials, appliances, and display cases were chosen based on their environmental footprint.



As part of their focus on conservation, IBM’s Rochester facility undertook the “Chilled Water Optimization Project”. The results are an annual reduction in electricity use of 10 million kilowatt-hours, water use of 2.4 million gallons, and carbon dioxide emissions of 22 million pounds.


For more information on energy conservation or the Environmental Achievement Awards visit



About Rochester Public Utilities

As the municipal utility of Rochester, Minn., for more than 110 years, RPU provides high-quality and reliable electricity to over 49,000 customers. Water customers number more than 37,000. RPU continually investigates innovative technologies to help customers realize the best value from the services they receive. Current initiatives include fuel cell research, wind power, and photovoltaic offerings.


Time Lapse Video of 4th Street SW Reservoir Construction

Monday, January 13th, 2014

What is RPU to you?

Monday, January 6th, 2014



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