Darien water rates going up

<p>Sun-Times Media file photo</p>

Sun-Times Media file photo

Darien residents will soon pay more for Lake Michigan water after the City Council voted Monday to pass along rate hikes imposed by the city of Chicago and the DuPage Water Commission.

Water rates will jump to $7.75 per 1,000 gallons from the current rate of $6.40. Those who live outside the city limits but receive Darien water will now pay $9.30 per 1,000 gallons. In addition, aldermen agreed to double the fixed connection fee charged to each water account, from $5 to $10 per month, to cover the city’s cost of maintaining its water distribution system, reading meters, detecting leaks, billing, and monitoring water quality, among other functions. Residents of unincorporated areas will now pay $12 more per month for this fee.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, typical water consumption is about 100 gallons per person per day, or about 12,000 gallons per month for a family of four. In Darien, that family would pay an additional $16.20 per month under the new rate structure. Once the increased fixed fee is figured in, the monthly increase is $21.20.

Mayor Kathleen Weaver noted the city had no choice but to pass on steep water rate hikes imposed by the city of Chicago on the DuPage Water Commission. Chicago officials said the increases were necessary to maintain its massive but antiquated water system, and the DuPage Water Commission has tacked on increases of its own as it seeks to regain its financial footing. As a result, customers served by the commission paid 30 percent more for lake water in 2012, 20 percent more in 2013, 18 percent more this year, and will pay an additional 17 percent in 2015.

For residents of Darien and other towns impacted by these rate hikes, now may be time to fix dripping faucets and leaky toilets. Leaks account for nearly 14 percent of all residential water use, according to the American Water Works Research Foundation, or nearly as much water as is drawn from faucets inside the average U.S. home each day. A leaky toilet alone can waste 200 gallons of water or more each day.

On a related note, the city’s Municipal Services Department is flushing fire hydrants throughout the city this week, always on an overnight basis (between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.) to reduce the impact on residents. Even so, some users may experience discolored water as accumulated rust and minerals are removed. Should this occur, the city advises users to run the cold water inside their homes until the discoloration disappears, usually within three to 10 minutes.

In other action Monday, the City Council:

• adopted the 2014 concrete replacement program, under which residents can replace their sidewalks, driveways, curbs and driveway aprons at a reduced cost. These costs range from $3.93 per square foot for aprons to $12.70 per square foot for curbs and gutters. The signup deadline is July 3. Residents can call 630-837-8805 for more information.

• approved architectural renderings from the Shive-Hattery engineering and design firm for the city-owned portion of the Heritage Plaza redevelopment project at the northeast corner of Cass Avenue and Plainfield Road.

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