Des Moines utility: Zoo must start paying for water service

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A utility is demanding that a Des Moines zoo start paying its water and sewer bill but the foundation that runs the zoo says that could jeopardize programs such as free tickets for children.

The Des Moines Water Works board is willing to forgive most of the $5 million in water and sewer services that Blank Park Zoo hasn’t paid since 2003. The utility wants $74,000 for water used last year.

Zoo president Mark Vukovich says the Blank Park Zoo Foundation was told it wouldn’t have to pay utilities when it took over operations from the city in 2003. The utility says the free water deal should have ended then.

City, utility and the zoo officials will meet this month to discuss the issue.