Wheaton Water Bill Changes
A number of factors have contributed to a need to change the amount the City charges customers for water and the way in which they are charged, which were recently highlighted by an outside consultant’s study of the City’s water rate.
The 2012 water rate study concluded that the City’s existing water rate would no longer generate enough revenue to cover the costs to provide water service. To address this, the study recommended that the City: 1) increase the amount it charges water customers and 2) change the way monthly water bills are calculated.
Why are these changes necessary?
The main reason is the significant increase in the amount the DuPage Water Commission is now charging the City for Lake Michigan water. The cost of water from the DuPage Water Commission increased 20% in 2013, and will increase 18% in 2014 and 17% in 2015. More than 50% of water customer revenue collected by the City goes toward the cost of purchasing water. The rest is used to operate and maintain more than 200 miles of water lines and the other equipment necessary to deliver water to over 16,000 customers.
The water rate study recommended that the City increase revenue generated by water customer bills as follows:
- 30% on Jan. 1, 2013 (20% DuPage Water Commission increase + 10% City increase)
- 25% on Jan. 1, 2014, (18% DuPage Water Commission increase + 7% City increase) and
- 20% on Jan. 1, 2015 (17% DuPage Water Commission increase + 3% City increase)
Wheaton’s water system is operated as an enterprise fund, meaning the costs to provide water are entirely supported by customer fees. The water rate study concluded that the way the City was billing customers for water now – based on usage only – does not provide the long-term revenue stability necessary to support required infrastructure improvements. Parts of Wheaton’s water system are more than 60 years old. Over the next five years, the City needs to invest $8 million for capital improvements to the water system, including:
- $4.4 million in water main replacements
- $1.6 million in water tower maintenance
- $1.3 million in water meter replacements
- $400,000 for a computerized control system
To address this, water customer bills now include a service fee, which is a flat monthly charge that is based on the size of each customer’s water meter. Also recommended by the water rate study, the City increased the rate for water usage. Combined with the monthly service fee, the increased usage rates will provide the necessary revenue to continue delivering safe, clean water to City water customers.
2014 Water rates and fees
Rate per 100 c.f. - $4.49
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