We have all seen the increases in our water rates over the years and it has affected us all deep into our pocketbooks.
It is important for us to explain quite directly and simply the reasons behind the escalating costs of this natural resource.
Lake Michigan is one of the sources of the freshest water in the world. The City of Chicago provides the water to Evergreen Park and the nearby suburbs. However, this service does not come free.
Water rates remained relatively low in the years up until 2007. During those years, Chicago did not raise water rates, and if they did, the percentage was so low that the Village of Evergreen Park did not pass those increases along to the residents.
Beginning in the year 2008, the City of Chicago's water rates have increased dramatically: 2008: 15% increase
2009: 15% increase
2010: 14% increase
2012: 25% increase
2013: 15% increase
2014: 15% increase
2015: 15% increase
This is a compounded 187% increase in the water rate over the last eight years!
The increase that is passed on to our customers is to cover the cost of the water supply, contract obligations and the maintenance of the water distribution system.
Managing Your Water Bill
Water bills are sent on a quarterly basis. A water bill that is received, for example, on September 1 reflects usage from May-June-July. If a bill is unpaid thirty days after the due date, a 10% penalty is attached to the balance and your water service becomes in danger of shutoff.
You can drop your payment off in the drive-up box located in the Village Hall parking lot (intended for check-only payments). You can pay your bill in the Village Hall and you have several payment options available to you; cash, check or credit card.
You may also elect to sign up for direct debit, where the payment is debited directly from the checking account you have assigned.
The best way to keep ahead of your water bill is to be pro-active about it. The new digital water meters allow you to see first-hand how much water you are using. Even though the bills come out quarterly, you can always call Water Management to check on your water usage.
So. . .what happens if you get a water bill that seems abnormally high to you?
Call Water Management immediately.
First. . . a representative can check your usage as compared to your previous bills. If they see something out of line, it could be indicative of a hidden leak in your home. Water Management can set an appointment for a field operator to inspect your home and find any costly leaks.
Secondly. . .despite the rumors that you hear, the Village of Evergreen Park does make payment plans available to you if you have a high bill. The important thing is that you contact the Village IMMEDIATELY. Get the plan started BEFORE the bill is due and adhere to the arrangements (please keep in mind, though, that even with a payment plan, a 10% penalty will still apply on quarterly overdue balances)....
Many folks make the mistake of waiting until the bill is two months overdue and on the verge of shutoff before trying to make payment arrangements. Be pro-active.
Being that water bills are mailed out quarterly, you may still MAKE PAYMENTS towards your next water bill. YES, you can build up a credit on your water account to lessen the amount that would be owed on your next bill. You can make a monthly payment in amount of AT LEAST $50. (If using the drop-box, please remember to include your water account number).
HOW TO SAVE ON WATER COSTS
Using water wisely is the best way to keep your water bills in check.
First, you should constantly be checking your system for leaks. How can you do this? This process is very simple now that the new digital water meters have been installed. Pick a time of day when you know that your water usage is non-existent; you're not running laundry, no sink faucets are running, no dishwashers are in operation, etc. Check your water meter; the digit at the very right end should remain perfectly still if there is no water running. If it moves even ONE number. . .there is water running somewhere.
Perhaps a leaky toilet? They are notorious water hogs. Even if you don't hear it running, it could be a slow leak. Pour a little food coloring into your toilet tank; if the water in the bowl turns that color within 15 minutes, you have a leaky toilet.
Beyond this, there are extremely simple and effective means of limiting water usage; 1) Dispose of facial tissues or miscellaneous in a proper waste receptacle, not your toilet. One toilet flush uses upwards of 5 gallons of water!
2) Limit your showers to no longer than five minutes
3) Do full loads of laundry, rather than halves, and use the proper settings on the washing machine
4) Refrain from watering your lawn when possible. Invest in rain barrels to collect rain water to use for your lawn and garden
5) If you wash dishes by hand, don't let the rinsing water run constantly. Use short bursts per dish. This is much more cost-effective than using a dishwasher.