Mayor: Suburbs Will Share Water-Bill Pain With Chicago

CHICAGO (CBS) –- It’s not just Chicagoans who would get socked with larger water bills, under Mayor Emanuel’s proposed city budget.

Residents of the more than 100 suburbs that purchase their water from Chicago would also see their bills double over the next four years.

Emanuel emphasized that point Friday as he tried to placate city residents and stressed the need to revamp Chicago’s water-delivery system.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser Reports

Some Chicago water mains are 125 years old.

“It’s an investment that’s long overdue in Chicago’s future, and its time we do it,” the mayor said at a news conference.

The $2.8 billion project would replace 1,000 miles of water and sewer mains and create 1,800 jobs for a year.

“About 47 percent of that work, the cost of that work, will be borne by suburbanites,” Emanuel said.

Residents in the suburbs that purchase Chicago water were not pleased at the prospect of paying more. One woman cited the cases of four suburbs that haven’t paid their past water bills to Chicago.

Emanuel says three of those four suburbs have agreed to payment plans. He also said all those non-profits that used to get free or heavily discounted water will have to pay full freight.

The mayor also stuck to his guns Friday on another controversial fee hike announced in his budget address: for vehicle stickers on larger vehicles.

What he didn’t say was that he was changing the weight definition for standard-size cars -– from 4,000 to 4,500 pounds.

“If you look at the data which is pretty compelling, the weight class should be at 4,000, not 4,500 (pounds),” Emanuel said.

The change would mean increases in sticker fees for nearly 200,000 vehicles.

Asked if he realized that would occur, Emanuel answered, “I also know this detail: 75 percent of all cars will not see an increase.”

The added revenue would be used to pay for filling more potholes.

  • ChicagoBornAndRaised

    Well I sure didn’t vote for him…….
    Hmmm…vote out Obama first then Rahm second

  • Roberta Waker

    Most of us have not wanted an airport to be built in Peotone for many reasons. However, with Chicago’s policies affecting the way we live and the money we spend; maybe it’s time for 100% support for this airport. Why? This airport will take big money away from Chicago and could carry passengers as well as freight. To make it convenient for passengers, we need to build a monorail or other form of transportation to get people to the Chicago AREA (not the tax happy city itself). The Peotone Airport has suddenly turned into a very GOOD idea. It will put people in our area to work, take away our dependence on Chicago services, increase OUR tax input and take away some Chicago taxes. Sounds like it’s time for the suburbs to pay back Chicago for all the “good” Chicago has done for us. Let’s start pushing for the Peotone Airport and transportation to the Chicago area – Chicago has made it a very good idea to lessen their influence on our lives while we still can do so.

  • Roy

    The Peotone airport is northing but a waste of money that will never happen. It is J.J junior’s little wet dream which will serve nobody because it’s too far out in the boonies. Anyway, it’s about time the suburbs start paying for their fair share of water and other city services.

    • Roberta Waker

      We don’t mind paying for our fair share, but most of the suburbs have only had water from Chicago for a few years and have already seen our water bills double and triple for NORMAL usage. Why should WE pay to replace 125 year old water mains when we haven’t used them for 125 years? Seems the City should have maintained, repaired and replaced these long ago at THEIR expense. Maybe we can get our well water back and just pay for water softeners in the south suburbs. Water went from $23 for THREE months for a family of five to $62 A MONTH for TWO people with Chicago water. So, we HAVE paid our fair share for water AND city services. Maybe it’s time for Chicago to pay the suburbs for THEIR services.

    • Roberta Waker

      JJ Jr. will NEVER get control of the Peotone Airport if it ever does get built because it will NOT be built in Chicago OR Cook County. Yes, it is out in the boonies, which is why I recommend a monorail or other form of transportation to put people to work building and maintaining a transportation system from Peotone. Chicago needs to take care of the numerous problems in Chicago like crime, corruption, excessive taxes, etc. and leave the suburbs alone.

  • ChicagoNetTech

    While none of us like the proposed increases to City fees, the fact is that a good portion of the water which flows through the current water main system is lost to leaks in that system. This is counterproductive, wastes water from Lake Michigan, and leads to street cave-ins like the one which recently occurred on Fullerton near Ashland.

    There are additional issues involved in the costs of water and sewer as well:

    1. A good portion of Chicago’s residences do not have water meters. While they are charged based on “frontage,” the number of toilets, the number of sinks, etc, this is not always fair to the homeowner.

    2. Going from a NON-METERED water account to a METERED water account, with a household of two persons, will probably cut your water bill by as much as 50%.

    3. Non-metered water accounts are billed every six months. With a single family residence having a 24 foot street frontage, 1 kitchen, and 1 bath, a Chicago water customer pays $396.00 every 6 months – annualized to 792.00.

    With a water meter, and some standard conservation measures, that same Chicago water customer will probably pay an average of 60.00 every 2 months or 357.00 per year. The annual cost of the METERED water use in the above example is less than it would cost the same residence for just 6 months with a NON-METERED water account. This will vary based on the number of occupants in the household and the water conservation measures in use.

    4. Many homeowners who have non-metered water accounts do not repair leaking toilets or sinks. A small drip in a sink can waste thousands of gallons of water a month. This costs the water department a lot of money when you take into consideration all of the non-repaired sinks and toilets in Chicago – thousands of them. the TAXPAYERS and those who have water bills ultimately pick up the cost of this wasted water.

    5. Many homeowners who have non-metered water accounts run excessive amounts of water for their gardens and lawns. Again, everyone pays for the excesses of those with non-metered water accounts.

    6. In many of the suburban areas now, a SEPARATE water meter – literally a second meter – is installed for outside sprinkling and garden taps. This has primarily been done in areas which purchase water from Chicago so the residents of those communities can see exactly how much the water they use in their gardens and on their lawns. In suburban areas where they have a separate meter for for water used outside the house, the use of water for sprinkling and watering gardens has dropped significantly.

    7. Do you know how much water hospitals use? An incredible amount. None of them have ever paid for the water they use. The citizens of Chicago have been footing the bill for years. It is time to make everyone pay for the water they use.

    It costs a lot of money to maintain the water treatment plants, intake cribs and waste treatment facilities.

    The water in Lake Michigan and the other Great Lakes supplies some of the cleanest and purest water in the world.

    The water in Chicago’s water system is more pure and cleaner than most bottled water – and, in many cases, tastes better, too. If you don’t like the chlorine and/or fluoride, there are inexpensive filtering systems which can be used to filter it out.

    By purchasing a stainless steel, refillable, water bottle, you will save hundreds of dollars on bottled water which you used to purchased in stores every year.

    By making everyone pay for the water actually used, at rates which actually reflect the cost of pumping and treating that water, the cost of water treatment and delivery will be equitable to everyone involved.

    By replacing the aging water delivery system in Chicago, we will realize additional savings because we will not loose between 10 and 20% of the water pumped before it is delivered to businesses and households in Chicago. We will also save millions of dollars in sink-hole and water main repair costs annually.

  • jAMES

    Have a recall election ,get Emanuel out of office before he makes everyone poor in Illnois. He’s nuts

  • cflc


  • Suburban Mayor Not Pleased With Emanuel’s Planned Water Rate Hike « CBS Chicago

    […] Residents of more than 100 suburbs purchase their water from the city, and under the mayor’s budge… […]

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