Evanston’s water system is losing water to leaks at a rate more than 50 percent above state-imposed standards.

In a memo aldermen, Public Works Director Dave Stoneback says last year the city was unable to bill for over 19 percent of the water the plant pumped. State rules limited so-called non-revenue water loss to 12 percent last year — with that limit scheduled to decline to 10 percent by 2019.

Stoneback says the city has submitted a water system improvement plan to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. It recaps a half dozen different steps the city has taken recently to better measure water usage and locate and repair leaks.

He says the city plans to spend $2.4 million to replace nearly 12,000 water meters over the next several years as well as replace more old water mains and better monitor the system for leaks.

Stoneback says the current standards went into effect late in 2014. Evanston, he says, had met the previous standard, which included an exemption based on the age and quantity of pipes in a municipality’s distribution system.

Stoneback’s memo came in response to a request from Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl that staff consider relaxing restrictions on lawn sprinkling adopted earlier this year.

He said that given the city’s lack of compliance with the leakage rules, it would be unwise to relax lawn watering restrictions that are also called for by the state as part of its compliance with a 1980 U.S. Supreme Court decision limiting the amount of water that can be diverted form Lake Michigan.

Stoneback says that at least in theory the IDNR could revoke the city’s Lake Michigan water allocation if the lawn sprinkling ordinance doesn’t meet its requirements.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

  1. Will rates rise again?

    What is going on? How long has the city known about this? Was this covered up until a plan was developed to fix the problems? Are water rates going up again to fix the problems and is this been part of the plan for the last 3 years?

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Your email address will not be published.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 *