Thanks to a 25 percent increase in the cost of Lake Michigan water, the average Plainfield family will see its water rates go up by more than $8.50 a month next year.
Public Works Director Allen Persons told the Monday that what had been anticipated to be a this year, needed to finally catch up on the rate increases imposed by the city of Chicago in 2008, 2009 and 2010, is now going to be much higher.
That Chicago would approve such a big jump less than two years after the three-year 40 percent hike caught the village by surprise, Persons acknowledged.
“When a water rate increase goes into effect, it affects every single resident in the city of Chicago,” he said.
On the plus side, there’s been no increase in the transmission fees charged by Illinois-American Water Co. and Bedford Park, which are responsible for getting the water from Chicago to Plainfield, he said. Assuming there are no water or transmission increases next year, village residents should be able to safely assume that rates will not go up in 2013, Persons said.
The 2012 rates are to be approved at the board’s Dec. 19 meeting, with the new costs going into effect in February.
The average home uses about 900 cubic feet/6,750 gallons of water per month at a cost of $68.92. Broken down, that’s $39.42 a month for water, $22.50 a month for sewer and $7 a month for capital projects, including the debt on the wastewater treatment plant expansion.
Under the new monthly rates, water will be $44.73, sewer $24.75 and capital $8, for a total of $77.48 a month.
The hike adds $102.72 to the $827.04 annual bill the average user currently pays for water and sewer services. (Senior citizens who qualify for a county tax freeze exemption receive a 10 percent discount.)
Despite the unexpected spike, Persons said residents shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that there have been a lot of economies put into place in the water and sewer department in recent years. For example, what had been a $2 million administrative payroll in 2009 has been reduced to about $800,000, yet staff has been able to keep up with a demand for about 4 million gallons of water a day.
And even with the increase, the water rate remains below what village officials expected residents to be paying in 2012 back when the switch from deep well water to Lake Michigan water was approved. Those figures estimated the monthly water cost would be $44.80, but in fact it will only be $44.73, Persons said.
The amount of water the village loses through leaks and other system problems is just 2 percent, which is far lower than almost any other community he is aware of, Persons said.
“No one likes to see rates go up … but when you see how much you get for the money, (the water/sewer department) is just outstanding,” Trustee Margie Bonuchi said. “I hope residents do appreciate all that goes into (keeping costs low).”