Understanding Your Water Bill
The City of Highland Park provides water service and manages accounts for more than 10,000 residential and commercial customers. Each quarter, the City sends out water bills to all customers based on their water usage. A residential water bill is broken down into three components and described in detail below.
Three Components of a Water Bill
A typical water bill has three components:
- Sanitary Sewer Maintenance – The sanitary sewer maintenance fee is calculated based on a fixed fee plus a portion of water usage consumption. The fee is used to pay for capital improvements and maintenance of over 150 miles of City sanitary sewers. The sanitary sewers collects waste from all households and discharges them to the Clavey Road Wastewater Treatment Plant. The 2019 sanitary sewer maintenance quarterly billing rate is $6/qtr + $1.30/unit for residential properties. Each unit equals 100 cubic feet of water. For example, the meter reading consumption shows 24 (units). The sanitary sewer maintenance charge for the quarter equals $37.20 ($6 + ($1.30*24)).
- Storm Sewer Maintenance- The storm sewer maintenance fee is calculated based on impervious coverage of the lot. The fee is used to pay for capital improvements and maintenance of over 170 miles of City storm sewers, inlets, and associated appurtenances. The storm sewers collect rainfall runoff from various sources and discharges it to Lake Michigan, Skokie River, or Middle Fork. The fee is different for commercial and residential lots. One impervious area unit (IAU) equals 2,765 square feet. The minimum base rate, for 2,765 sf or less, is 1 IAU. All residential households are charged the minimum base rate. The 2019 rate is $8.50/month for the base fee, so for a quarter it’s $25.50. For those with higher impervious coverage than 2,765 sf the rate is calculated based on IAUs. For example, a property with 4,500 sf of impervious area will result in 1.63 IAUs. The monthly rate would be $13.86 ($8.50*1.63) and the quarterly rate would be $41.58.
- Water Consumption- Base Rate – The water consumption- base rate is calculated quarterly based on meter readings. The water bill shows the net increase in consumption under Meter Reading section. Each unit is 100 cubic feet. The 2019 base rate is $2.60 per unit. For 24 units, the quarterly cost of water consumption would be $62.40. The quarterly water bill total is $141.18 ($37.20 + $41.58 + $62.40). In 2019, the City conducted a comprehensive water rate survey of Chicago municipalities.
Of the 25 communities surveyed, Highland Park has the second lowest water rate. The City has a tiered water rate plan to encourage residents to conserve water. Please see below information on water conservation.
Typically, September bills are higher than the previous quarter bill. A few factors may contribute to the high bill.
- Consumption of water due to summer months (indoor use and outdoor use) as this bill is comprised of water usage in the months of June, July, and August.
- An estimated read the prior quarter. The estimate is based on past history. So, when the actual read is taken the number of units could increase thereby an increase in the following water bill. The new meters installed are more precise meters compared to old meters providing accurate readings on consumption.
- Minor leaks in the plumbing fixtures.
- The prior quarter’s water bill may not have captured all 90 days. A typical water bill is calculated for 90 days of consumption. If a less-consumption bill is sent one quarter, the following quarter could be for 100 or 120 days of consumption thereby showing an increase in water bill from the previous bill or previous year. This is attributed to the timing of the reading and when the billing was sent for printing.
Conserve More, Pay Less
The City has a tiered water rate plan to encourage residents to conserve water.
Information pertaining to water conservation tips including indoor use can also be found on our website at http://cms6.revize.com/revize/highlandparkil/environment/water_conservation/conserve_water.php.
Additional information on water billing can be found at https://www.cityhpil.com/resident/water_billing.php.
For inquiries on water billing, please call the Finance Department at 847.432.0800. For issues with water meters, please contact Public Works at 847.432.0807.