Sep 10, 2018

Chicago Suburbs Strike Drinking Water Rate Agreement

A long-standing water rate conflict between Hammond, Ind., and Chicago Heights, Ill., was resolved

Two Chicago suburbs reach agreement over drinking water rates
Two Chicago suburbs reach agreement over drinking water rates

On Sept. 5, officials from Hammond, Ind., and Chicago Heights, Ill., reached an agreement that Hammond will supply more drinking water to Chicago Heights for resale. The agreement marks the conclusion of a water rate conflict that led the two communities to meet in federal court in 2012. The disagreement stemmed from negotiations over a 30-year-old contract that did not contain any clause that the rate should be modified, meaning Chicago Heights was paying 57.5 cents per gal of water received from Hammond.

Approved by the Chicago Heights City Council, the new 20-year agreement will sell up to 10 million gal of Lake Michigan water per day to Chicago Heights at a rate of $2.05 per 1,000 gal, which the receiving community will be able to sell to neighboring suburbs. While water infrastructure expansions are finishing, Hammond will sell 5 million gal per day to Chicago Heights, with that total expanding to 10  million once the infrastructure is complete, as reported by the Northwest Indiana Times.

“We’ve been working very hard with Hammond trying to bring additional Lake Michigan water to the south suburbs,” said Chicago Heights Mayor David Gonzalez. “We’ve been on this for a good four, five years now.”

The agreement will be profitable for both communities, as Hammond is expected to receive an additional $2 to $3 million annually and Chicago Heights will supply water to an increasing number of Chicago suburb communities. Chicago Heights is expected to supply water for Homewood, FLossmoor, Olympia Fields, Matteson, County Club Hills, Hazel Crest, Sauk Village and possibly more.

“We’ve gone from federal court to shaking hands,” said Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott.