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posted: 7/26/2014 7:33 AM

Drinking water agency overcharges Streamwood in billing error

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An agency that supplies drinking water to Streamwood overcharged the village roughly $80,000 in May, a gaffe officials traced to a valve left open in a Schaumburg Road pumping station.

The Northwest Suburban Municipal Joint Action Water Agency credited the money back to the village on its June bill. But the error spurred several precautions at the facility on the village's northeast side.

"We've taken steps to make sure everything is properly secured and labeled," Streamwood Village Manager Gary O'Rourke said.

Agency personnel or a contractor may have mistakenly flipped open the valve, O'Rourke said. As a result of the oversight, engineers estimated an average of 873,000 gallons a day flowed through a water meter -- used to calculate bills -- twice, he said.

The consortium of Cook County towns buys Lake Michigan drinking water from the city of Chicago. Its executive committee is made up of city or village managers from each participating suburb: Elk Grove Village, Hanover Park, Hoffman Estates, Mount Prospect, Rolling Meadows, Schaumburg and Streamwood.

Since the village typically pays the agency about $400,000 a month, the $80,000 spike raised eyebrows.

"It caught everyone's attention right away," O'Rourke said. "It just took a bit of time to determine where the error was."

O'Rourke stressed the mistake did not affect residents' bills, which are tied to individual water meters.

"Both JAWA and village of Streamwood accounting staff caught the anomaly in our billing and worked together to identify the source and account for the appropriate billing," O'Rourke said. " ... It had no impact whatsoever on our residents and the users of their water system."

Joseph Fennell, the agency's executive director, did not immediately return messages for comment.

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