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City Notes: Water treatment plant update

Can a running toilet really use that much water?

By Cory Spieker, Superintendent, Water Treatment Department

Every month the Water Department notifies residents who have unusually high water usage. More often than not, the resident knows they have an issue, and that issue is usually a running toilet. 

A running toilet can add a significant amount to your water usage, and to your utility bill, if not taken care of as soon as you notice it.

Sometimes a leak is easily identified by the sound of running water or moving water in the toilet bowl. If you think you may have a running toilet but are unable to see or hear the water running in the bowl, simply add a few drops of food coloring to the tank of your toilet. Let it sit as long as possible without flushing; if you notice the color in your toilet bowl before flushing, you have a leak.

Toilet repairs are often easy fixes that you can do yourself, like replacing a flapper that has worn out due to normal wear and tear. If you rely on “jiggling the handle” to stop your toilet from running, you need to look at making a repair. 

While repairs are often small, simple fixes that are relatively inexpensive, they could save you a significant amount of money in the long run. A small, continuous leak can quickly add up high usage over a month. A large utility bill is an unexpected cost that could potentially be avoided.

If you receive a higher than normal utility bill and are unable to find a leak, please call the Water Department for assistance.   

Pay utility bill with credit or debit card

The city is now accepting utility bill payments using your credit or debit card. There is a small fee associated with each transaction using this service. While this service is only offered face to face at City Hall (we will not be accepting credit or debit card payments over the phone), we also offer the option of having your utility bill payment automatically deducted each month. 

If you would like to set up the automatic payment, please stop by City Hall or visit the city’s website and click on online bill pay on the home screen. The website can be found at

Change out water meters

We have started to take a more aggressive approach to get older water meters replaced throughout the city. You may see an operator from the Water Department in your neighborhood knocking on doors and hanging tags to gain access to your water meter. 

If you find a tag at your residence, please contact either City Hall or the Water Department at your earliest convenience, so that we can set up an appointment to change out the water meter. 

The whole process usually takes less than 10 minutes. There is no charge to the customer for the meter replacement. The new water meters have the ability to log hourly readings, making it easier for us to assist homeowners in identifying leaks.


As I do every year, I would like to remind all residents to clear the snow around fire hydrants near their houses. Lives can be saved when fire crews can access hydrants immediately. 

If you live close to a fire hydrant, please take a few minutes to clear away any snow that accumulates around the hydrant during the winter. If you notice any damage to a fire hydrant or accidentally damage one yourself, please notify the Water Department or City Hall.


After 35 years of service to the Charles City Water Department, Mike McCauley will be retiring next month. Mike has played a critical role in keeping the water flowing at the plant and in the distribution system over the years. We wish Mike a long, healthy and happy retirement!


In closing, I encourage all Charles City residents to contact the Water Department with any questions or concerns you have with your water supply. I can be reached at the Water Treatment Plant at 641-257-6315, or by email at 

More information may also be found on the City’s website at