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updated: 5/3/2013 3:57 PM

Buffalo Grove offers option to cut sewer fees

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Buffalo Grove plans to offer its Lake County residents a way to save on sanitary sewer fees by allowing the installation of irrigation meters, but it will take years to recover the upfront costs.

Finance Director Scott Anderson told trustees that the meters, which measure the amount of water used outside the home, would be offered to Lake County residents who own underground irrigation systems.

Anyone interested should contact the water utility department. It would be the customer's responsibility to create the opening for the meter, purchase the meter and pay for the inspection. A village water utility employee would attach the meter in the opening.

Having a separate meter for an irrigation system would cost at least $1,000, given the cost of the meter, installation and inspection. On average, it would take 10 years for the savings to pay back that cost, officials said.

In 2011, Lake County changed the way it charges sanitary sewer fees, moving away from a flat fee for each gallon of water used during the summer months. The goal was to mitigate sewer bill spikes due to outdoor water usage that has no impact on the sewer system.

During most of the summer, the rate charged is capped at 110 percent of the average non-summer use. As a result, residents have saved almost 25 percent on sanitary sewer charges.

The exception is September, when the charges are not capped. With the meters, it will be easier for residents to monitor water usage that month and, therefore, better control costs.

At present, 1,500 homes have irrigation systems.

Details about the program will soon appear on the village's website

In Cook County, sanitary sewer fees are part of the property tax rather than being based on usage.

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