Evanston officials say they need to boost rates charged residents for water nearly 33 percent over the next three years to pay for capital improvements to the water system.

Utilities Director Dave Stoneback outlined a plan to hike rates 10 percent in each of the next three years at the City Council’s Administration and Public Works Committee meeting Monday night.

Stoneback says the average homeowner now pays $192 a year for water service. Under the plan that would rise to $255 by 2016.

Sewer rates, which now average $454 a year, would remain unchanged.

The city’s water bills, issued six times a year, also include separate fees for garbage pickup services.

Stoneback says the city will need to issue an average of $5 million a year in water bonds for the next 20 years to replace 51 miles of water mains that are more than 100 years old and make other improvements.

Sewer fund expenses are expected to be somewhat lower for the next three years than they are this year as bonds taken out over the last few decades to fund projects designed to reduce flooding during storms start to be paid off.

Rates are based on the amount of water consumers use. That has been generally declining for more than a decade, but the city projects that it will remain essentially unchanged for the next three years.

Evanston’s combined charge for water and sewer service now is slightly above the average for similar communities across the region, according to figures Stoneback provided to aldermen. But with Chicago scheduled to increase its rates to suburban customers by 15 percent in 2014 and again in 2015, he expects Evanston to end up slightly below the regional average by 2016, even with the proposed increases here.

Stoneback said talks are continuing to expand Evanston’s water system to serve additional communities.

He said Lincolnwood may sign up for Evanston water by the end of this year and that several more towns could be added later, assuming they agree to collaborate on building a regional transmission main.

Top: A file photo of Evanston’s water plant on Sheridan Road at Lincoln Street.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Evanston champagne

    At that price, we should all call it Evanston champagne.



  2. Remembering past promises

    Less than 20 years ago the city said they needed 10% increases for several years to fix the water infra-structure.  They kept this up beyond the three (as I recall) years. 

    After the first increase, Skokie withdrew a parcel of land they had planned to give Evanston—I don't when or if the problem was resolved.

    Maybe the city should devote some of the money for sculptures, decorated brick sidewalks, gifts to stores for awnings, outlandish payments for parking lots for Trader Joes, gifts and meaningless low rent for wine store owners, support for actors/artists to prepare for JOBS (instead of basic arts exposure for K-12) they will never get and many many more and start addressing the real needs of the city and assume they can always raise taxes and no one will care.

  3. Did anyone ask Northwestern?

    So where does our beloved city officials think we are getting this extra money from? 

    Did anyone think to ask the megarich Northwestern University to "donate" the money as a kind gesture to its more than gracious host city?  I'm sure they could spare the pocket change.

    1. Megarich Northwestern?

      There are several problems with this :

       Why should Northwestern University subsidize water service for Evanston residents?  Northwestern pays for water that it uses, it shouldn't pay for yours.  It seems especially odd to ask NU to pay for pipes out to to western and southern Evanston, when NU is right on the lakefront.

      Megarich?  Well, Northwestern has an endowment of several billion dollars.  But when people contribute to NU, they are donating for University use.  Often, as with endowed professorships or scholarships, there are limitations on how the money can be used.  Subsidizing freedloading townies is not usually one of the uses.

      Many deparments at Northwestern are facing severe budget problems right now.  I don't know where you get this 'megarich' idea.  

      And what is this "gracious host city" that you mention?   It certainly isn't Evanston, which goes out of its way to annoy and harass Northwestern.  Nothing gracious about it.

      And since  Evanston NIMBYs are so proud of their 'history' and being life-long Evanstonians with 7 generations living in Evanston…let them fix their ancient and historical water supply system.  Northwestern should – and I assume that it does – maintain all pipes on campus, and it should pay (and it does) for the water that it gets from the City.   




  4. An audit, perhaps?

    This is the same speech given for the water rate increase that began on 01/01/11. With increases in 2012 and 2013. Perhaps an audit of the expendures should be taken.

  5. Other sources for water fees

    What about increasing the water fees for the golf course?  Are they even current on the money they owe the city for water?

    What about the taxes for the green’s fee?  Golfers walk to or drive to the tees away from where they are supposed to start and play to their heart’s content—all for free.  I’ve yet to see anyone checking their tags—Evanston misses out on the taxes.

    What about the rich with houses over $400,000 paying  extra instead of soaking the majority of  the residents?

    As for Northwestern, students would not come if they did not get all the fancy buildings and benefits their little hearts want.  Remember. NU is basically a vocational training school for journalism, music, theater, etc..

    As to its endowment, donors specify what they want the money spent for.  Also, Princeton has more than four times the endowment per student that NU has.

Leave a comment
The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *