GLEN ELLYN, Ill. (CBS) – You do the right thing – you run the dishwasher only when it’s full, you let the laundry pile up, you limit the sprinkler – all in the name of conserving water, then the village raises your water rates because you aren’t using enough water.
It’s happening in Glen Ellyn and, as CBS 2′s Dorothy Tucker reports, the irony of it all has residents scratching their heads.
Colleen Smith washes dishes by hand and won’t buy a dishwasher because it uses too much water.
“I don’t have a job, so I just do what I can,” she said.
Smith is among the many Glen Ellyn residents who conserve water to save money or to help the environment.
In recent years, water usage in the village has dropped from 1 billion gallons a year to 900 million. That might be good news for the environment, but it seems to be bad news for the village.
Trustees said the drop in usage has meant a drop in revenues, but the cost of supplying water to the village has jumped 10 percent. So they’re raising water rates by 5 percent.
For Smith, that means her $25 monthly water bill goes up by $1.25.
“It bothers me because I don’t have the money coming into the house like I used to,” she said.
Joe Rocco, owner of Gratto’s Restaurant, said he depends on water to operate his business. He uses 30,000 to 40,000 gallons a month and pays as much as $300.
That 5% increase means his bill would go up $15 a month.
“It makes me a little angry,” he said.
“In this economy you have to conserve,” he added. But, in this case, “you’re being penalized for it.”
Asked if it would help if people started using more water, Glen Ellyn Finance Director Larry Noller said, “That would certainly add to the resources we have, but that would be a judgment call.”
Residents like Linda Samuta were making the decision to cut back even more. A recent bill was $88. A 5% increase will add another $4.42
“Bath times will be shorter … we’ll need to keep the bills in check,” Samuta said.
Glen Ellyn residents will also see their sewer rates go up and the village is considering raising recycling fees by 5 percent.