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Understand Your Water Bill

Example Water Bill
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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:
  1. 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 collect waste from City properties and discharges to the Clavey Road Wastewater Treatment Plant. The 2024 sanitary sewer maintenance quarterly billing rate is $6.25/qtr + $1.35/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 $38.65 ($6.25 + ($1.35*24)).
  2. 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. One impervious area unit (IAU) equals 2,765 square feet. The minimum base rate, for 2,765 sf or less, is 1 IAU. The 2024 rate is $8.80/month for the base fee, equaling $26.40/quarter. 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 $14.32 ($8.80*1.63) and the quarterly rate would be $42.97.
  3. 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 the Meter Reading section. Each unit is 100 cubic feet. The 2024 base rate is $3.983 per unit. For 24 units, the quarterly cost of water consumption would be $95.59. The quarterly water bill total for this example is $177.21 ($38.65 (Sanitary) + $42.97 (Storm) + $95.59 (Water)). 
Water Rate Survey:
In 2023, the City conducted a comprehensive water rate survey of Chicago municipalities.
Screenshot 2024-01-04 155808

Water Usage
Typically, bills during the season of fall are higher than the previous quarters bills. A few of the following factors may contribute to the high bill:
  1. Consumption of water has increased during summer months from an increase of activities in warmer weather; such as lawn irrigation, pools, car washes and bathing. The City bills on a quarterly basis, which means bills in the fall include water usage from summer months. For an example, a bill in September will include usage from June, July and August.
  2. An estimated water meter reading from the prior quarter. A bill estimate is based on a history of water consumption during similar months and may be over or underestimated. When a bill is underestimated during the previous quarter, the actual meter reading from the current bill may include usage not included in the last bill. 
  3. Major or minor leaks in the plumbing fixtures. For more information on water leaks click here.  
  4. 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 shorter period bill is sent one quarter, the following quarter could be for 100 or even 120 days of consumption, thereby showing an increase in the 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.
My Water Use Program
The City's My Water Use program provides a secure, web-based portal with water usage information, leak notices, tailored recommendations and more. Residents can also set water use alerts based on preferences. Residents can sign up using their water account number at

My Water Use online portal allows you to:
  • Track your water use
  • Set alerts for possible leaks or unusual usage
  • Provides you with personalized tips on saving water
  • Allows you to set communications preferences
To set up your My Water Use Portal:
  1. Go to
  2. Click on Login
  3. Input your Account Number and Zipcode
  4. Walk thru the automated registration flow

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 here

For inquiries on water billing, please call the Finance Department at 847.432.0800. For inquiries with water meters, please contact Public Works at 847.432.0807.