Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

43° Evanston, IL
Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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City Council discusses lead pipe replacement, proposed water rate increase

The+Evanston+Water+Department.+The+proposed+17.5%25+increase+to+the+city%E2%80%99s+water+rate+would+cost+the+average+Evanston+resident+an+additional+%2469.93+annually.
Daily file photo by Noah Frick-Alofs
The Evanston Water Department. The proposed 17.5% increase to the city’s water rate would cost the average Evanston resident an additional $69.93 annually.

City Council discussed funding for water-related infrastructure, among many other aspects of the city’s proposed 2024 budget, during a special meeting Monday night. 

A particular point of contention was the 17.5% increase to the city’s water rate, which would cost the average Evanston resident an additional $69.93 annually. The rate hike will help the city meet the requirements of The Lead Service Line Replacement and Notification Act, which mandates that municipalities like Evanston that provide water to residents to replace all lead service lines by 2047.

Though the mandate was passed in 2021, the state did not allocate funding to help municipalities replace lead service lines, forcing the city to fund the act itself. With mounting property taxes also in the proposed budget, residents expressed frustration with a rising cost of living in Evanston at Monday’s meeting.

“One of the things I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from residents about (is) residents are concerned about the rate increase,” Ald. Juan Geracaris (9th) said.

The ordinance pertaining to water rate increases states that residents on the affordable water and sewer rate will not see their rates change.

The lead pipe and water main replacement expenses are part of the $111.8 million allocated toward the Capital Improvement Plan outlined in the budget, up from $92.1 million in 2023. Overall, the proposed 2024 budget totals more than $449 million, a $51.8 million increase from the 2023 adopted budget.

One of the reasons for the rate hike is the increase in costs of replacing water mains. The cost to install a water main rose by 41% between 2019 and 2023, according to budget documents.

“We are planning to ramp up not only replacing lead service lines but doubling our water main work as well,” said Darrell King, the city’s water production bureau chief.

The state’s water infrastructure replacement mandate requires municipalities to begin work by 2027. King said the city has been replacing approximately 150 water mains per year and is expecting to replace even more annually by 2027.

Although the city is anticipating funding the replacement on its own, Evanston’s water production bureau is also eyeing federal money. King said the city plans to apply for federal funds through the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which allocated about $15 billion for lead pipe replacement across the country.

While questioning King about the logistics of the lead pipe replacement program, Ald. Devon Reid (8th) emphasized the importance of keeping water affordable. 

“I think it’s an axiom that water is a human right,” Reid said. “Folks need water in their residential units.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @BrumerDelilah

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— Residents voice concerns on property tax hikes at City Council ‘Truth in Taxation’ Hearing

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