Evanston residents have done a pretty good job of reducing their water usage in recent years, but they’re likely to soon have to give back some of their savings in the form of higher rates.

Evanston residents have done a pretty good job of reducing their water usage in recent years, but they’re likely to soon have to give back some of their savings in the form of higher rates.

This chart from a city staff report shows the decline in water usage since 1999 and the staff’s projection of future usage through 2017.

City staff told aldermen this week that Evanstonians have cut their water usage by nearly 19 percent since 2005.

Other communities have experienced similar declines as residential and commercial users have installed low-flow toilets and taken other conservation measures.

But water and sewer rates have stayed the same during that time, draining the system’s reserves and leaving the the city with insufficient funds to make what utility department officials see as essential capital improvements to the water and sewer systems.

So, they told the aldermen at a special meeting Monday night, that rates are likely to have to be increased by at least five percent by next year.

That would move Evanston’s combined water and sewer rates from the fifth most expensive among 16 north suburban communities studied, to the third most costly, assuming none of the other towns change their rates.

The staff report outlined a number of options for handling the increase and City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz said that based on feedback from the aldermen they’d come back with a more detailed proposal this fall.

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Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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2 Comments

  1. Why are our water rates so high?
    The City staff makes it seem as though this is a big surprise, although in looking at this graph (except for probably a dry year in 2005) water usage has been declining for 8 years. Given all of the media about sustainable use of this precious resource for many years, and the fact that the 1.6 gal. toilets and low-flow shower heads have been mandated by the Federal Government for about a decade now, why wasn’t this fact part of their planning and projections earlier? They could have gradually raised the rates. Now, of course, there will be a big jump. What dismal planning. What’s next? Probably our declining motor fuel tax so we cannot fix the roads (can they get any worse?) Alert to the City staff: Plan for that one too!

    Also, this article makes me wonder why we have the 5th highest water/sewer rates out of 16 communities when we are right on the shore of Lake Michigan. And the 3rd most costly – and we don’t have to transport it as the other suburbs further west need to do. So this must mean that we sell water to other communities who have cheaper water rates than what citizens of Evanston pay – and we are right on the lake! Something doesn’t make sense here.

  2. My water sewer, blue dumpster
    My water sewer, blue dumpster bills have already doubled in the last year and a half, and now this. I say shut down this dump of a city already?

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