Rise in Orland Park’s Water Rates Stem from Chicago Price Hike
With Orland Park among the suburbs dependent on Chicago to pump Lake Michigan water to them, local residents will pay more along with city dwellers.
Orland Park’s water rate is scheduled to increase by 37 cents per 1,000 gallons used, after Chicago recently decided to raise its rate.
The new water rate will first be on bills coming to Orland Park residents at the end of February. Homes in Orland Park use an average of about 9,000 gallons of water every two months, which would lead to an increase of about $3.75 for that amount used, Orland Park Finance Director Annmarie Mampe said Tuesday night during the finance committee meeting.
“The numbers make sense, but I don’t like them,” said Orland Park Trustee James Dodge Tuesday night in response to the rate change. “This is massive. We have no real say in this and we have no insight into Chicago’s cost structure.”
The village is among suburbs participating in a water supply agreement where Chicago sends Lake Michigan water through its infrastructure to Oak Lawn, which then supplies it to 12 south suburbs, including Orland Park. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel attributed the increase to a need for rebuilding aging infrastructure, though that won’t be to the benefit of the suburbs, which rely on their own distribution system once the water has been moved.
Chicago is also scheduled to raise its rates by 15 percent in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
While alternative sources of water have been discussed among participants in Oak Lawn’s distribution – including getting water from Hammond, Ind. or the Kankakee River – continuing with Chicago sending Lake Michigan water still appears to be the best choice, said Orland Park Village Manager Paul Grimes.
“Right now they are passing to us the same rate as Chicago residents,” Grimes said. “It’s awfully hard to accept that that would be the same rate we should pay for our water. Chicago has its own needs. They distribute the water to their customers but the costs should not be foisted upon the suburban communities.”
Grimes said a wholesale rate, instead of the current retail rate Chicago charges its own residents, should be what suburbs are charged. The wholesale rate would be built on actual costs of drawing water, treating it and shipping it to Oak Lawn.
“When rates were low, no one cared about a retail rate,” Grimes said. “But if they keep going up we need justification. That’s what the wholesale price can do. “
Oak Lawn also charges a water rate for the arrangement that decreased by 13 cents per 1,000 gallons – from 17 cents to 4 cents – compared to 2011, though Chicago’s rate increased by 50 cents.