Mayor Rahm Emanuel today defended his proposed water and sewer rate hikes that will more than double bills for many city households by 2015, saying that the move will allow Chicago to charge the suburbs more for water as well.
And that means suburban water users will be paying a considerable amount of the cost of an overhaul of Chicago's water system through higher fees, the mayor noted.
Emanuel has proposed incrementally raising the price of water from $2.01 per 1,000 gallons used to $3.82 per 1,000 gallons by 2015, which would increase the annual water bill for an average Chicago unmetered single-family home from $450 to $920, according to the Emanuel administration. The mayor says the increase will fund desperately needed repairs to the city's century-old system of pipes, sewers and pumping stations.
But Emanuel said higher city rates would also allow him to charge suburbs more for using Chicago water.
"Nearly half the cost on the water and the street repair will be (borne) by the suburban people who rely on the system," Emanuel said at the site of a water main repair project in North Lawndale. "Chicago residents themselves won't be bearing that cost."
Water Department Commissioner Thomas Powers pointed out the city can only charge suburbs the same rate as Chicago water users get charged.
"Within these rate increases, the city is expecting an additional revenue of nearly $330 million in water sales and $200 million in sewer sales for the next four years," Powers said. "Our suburban accounts are contributing approximately $154 million of the water sales."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun