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Downers Grove Water Rates to Increase 18 Percent in 2013

The village council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve new waters rates that reflect the rate hikes implemented by the DuPage Water Commission and City of Chicago.

Water rates in Downers Grove will increase by about 18 percent next year as a result of higher costs imposed by the city of Chicago and DuPage Water Commission.

The Downers Grove Village Council voted unanimously Tuesday to adopt the new rates, which go into effect in March 2013.

The increased water rates are part of a multi-year plan to cover the cost of owning, operating and maintaining the village's water system, officials said. The Water Rate Study commissioned in 2010 projected required revenue increases from 2012 through 2015.

The study assumed 10 percent annual increases from the DuPage Water Commission, officials said.

Last year, however, the commission—which buys Lake Michigan water from Chicago—voted to raise its water rates every year in 2015, including a 20 percent increase for 2013. The decision came after Chicago instituted a rate hike that amounts to a 90-percent wholesale increase over the same time frame.

The commission added an additional increase to replace revenue lost through financial mismanagement, officials said.

Because the increases were higher than anticipated, Downers Grove was forced to amend its water rate schedule. The increases—projected at 18 percent for 2013—will only impact the unit fee portion of the bill; the fixed fee portion foes not change from the original plan, according to village documents.

Commissioner Sean Patrick Durkin said he believes it's unfair that DuPage County communities are essentially covering the costs of Chicago's infrastructure projects.

"There's no common sense on these rates and how they're constructed and passed down to us," Durkin said. "There has to be something we can do."

Mayor Martin Tully also expressed frustration with Chicago and the DuPage Water Commission, but said the village is ultimately responsible for covering the cost while also setting aside money for its own infrastructure.

"We're stuck with what is presented to us when it comes to water rates," Tully said. "The village has been responsible in looking to the future and figuring what our infrastructure needs are for bringing water from the DuPage Water Commission to our residents ... We look at what those long-range costs are going to be."

Tully said he hopes to join other DuPage County communities in looking at alternative water sources, if only to break up the monoply Chicago has on the suburban water supply.

"While we don't have much choice when it comes to water rates, we are willing to vigorously explore other opportunities to the extent that we can," Tully said. "I don't think we need to be drowning in these increased rates all the time."

Water rates are projected to increase by 14 percent in 2014 and 2015, village officials said.

The following table shows the proposed water rates that will go into effect for bills received after March 1, 2013:

Bi-Monthly Fixed Charged by Water Meter Size 2012 2013 5/8 inch $9.31 $10.50 1 inch $13.96 $15.75 1.5 inches $46.53 $52.52 2 inches $74.45 $84.02 3 inches $139.59 $157.55 4 inches $232.66 $262.58 6 inches $465.31 $525.15 10 inches $1,116.75 $1,260.36 Bi-Monthly Unit Fee 2012 2013  Inside Village $4.13 $4.89 Outside Village $4.76 $5.61

The following table shows the projected impact of the new water rates:

User Category Typical Meter Size Current Bi-Monthly Bill Proposed 2013 Bi-Monthly Bill Typical Residential User 5/8 inch $71.26 $83.85 Typical Commercial User 1.5 inches $459.53 $541.52 Typical Industrial User 2 inches $900.45 $1,062.02

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There are plenty of ways to keep up on Downers Grove news:

patty December 08, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Get used to it folks...water is the new oil.

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