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Article updated: 4/1/2013 11:47 AM

Water rate hike on tap in Des Plaines


Des Plaines leaders tonight are expected to approve a 6.9 percent water and sewer rate hike -- the second significant hike in two years -- to help defray the costs of Chicago raising its fees 15 percent for delivery of Lake Michigan water to the city.

The possible hike comes a year after Des Plaines raised its water/sewer fees about 21 percent, following Chicago imposing a 25 percent hike. With the proposed increase, the average water bill would go up by $2.25 a month, officials said. City officials previously rejected a proposed 15 percent hike for this year.

An ordinance authorizing the 6.9 percent raise was approved on first reading by a 4-3 vote at the March 18 council meeting. Aldermen have been reluctant to raise rates any higher so as not to overburden residents.

"It still makes us at the very low end of water rates for those communities that get water from Chicago," City Manager Mike Bartholomew said last month.

The city is in the second year of a 10-year water deal with Chicago but has authorized feasibility studies to determine the costs of getting water from other sources, including through the villages of Wilmette and Glenview and the city of Evanston.

"Every solution requires some pipeline construction, but that final one (with Evanston) is a multiyear project. It could serve us at the lowest rate, but the infrastructure cost could be very, very high," Bartholomew said.

Some aldermen have suggested using gambling revenues from Rivers Casino in Des Plaines to fund water main repairs and infrastructure improvements that would typically be funded through the water and sewer fund revenues.

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