Residential FAQ Water-Sewer Tax

Water Consumption Chart 2

Beginning on March 1, 2017, all eligible utility bills (both residential and commercial) will now reflect charges for the water-sewer tax.

Residences and businesses will continue to be billed at the same frequency as their current billing cycle. Metered properties are billed for water and sewer services every other month for the previous two months of water and sewer usage. Current meter rates are $3.81 per 1,000 gallons, and sewer charges are 100 percent of the water bill.

To help ensure a smooth transition to this new charge, the City updated language on the back of all utility bills to help residents understand the water-sewer tax as well as all other charges included in the utility bill.

Sample Metered Bill
Sample Non-Metered Bill

If residents and businesses need assistance with their utility bill, the Chicago Department of Finance Utility Billing Customer Service is prepared to address questions and concerns. For more information 312-744-4426.

Why is the City adding this tax?

  • The Chicago City Council and Mayor Emanuel approved a four-year phase-in of a water and sewer tax to make certain mandated pension payments to the City’s largest pension fund – the Municipal Employees’ Annuity and Benefit Fund.
  • This pension fund supports the retirements of many municipal employees, including our snow plow drivers, our librarians, CPS’ non-teaching staff, such as classroom aides, among other staff.

How often are residents and businesses billed for water and sewer? And what are the current water and sewer rates?

  • Residences and businesses will continue to be billed at the same frequency as their current billing cycle.
  • Metered properties are billed for water and sewer services every other month for the previous two months of water and sewer usage. Current meter rates are $3.81 per 1,000 gallons, and sewer charges are 100 percent of the water bill.
  • Non-metered properties are billed for water and sewer service twice a year at a flat rate. Current non-metered rates are an estimate of water usage based on the lot size, number of fixtures, and other factors. Sewer charges are 100 percent of the water bill.

How will Chicago’s water-sewer rate compare to other large cities water and sewer fees and the surrounding suburbs?

  • Chicago’s water and sewer rates will continue to compare favorably to those of other major cities in the Great Lakes region and nationally.
  • Further, assuming Chicago’s suburban neighbors do not raise water rates over the next five years, Chicago’s water rate in 2021 will still be comparatively lower than 104 of 126 suburban customers’ residential rates. This is based on 2015 suburban rates.

Water rates in surrounding suburbs:

Harvey: $7.60 per 1,000 gallons of water

Maywood: $14.53 per 1,000 gallons of water

Oak Park: $8.37 per 1,000 gallons of water

Berwyn: $7.98 per 1,000 gallons of water

  • The charts below compare the single family residence cost per 7,500 gallons of water in Chicago to the rates charged for the same level of usage in other U.S. cities.

Water Consumption Chart 2

What will metered properties be charged?

  • Properties with a water meter are billed based on the amount of water used in the billing period.  The current water rate for metered accounts is $28.52 per 1,000 cubic feet or approximately $3.81 per 1,000 gallons.
  • Sewer charges are 100 percent of water charges.
  • The water-sewer tax is charged based on consumption.
  • The tax will be phased-in over four years, starting in March 2017 through 2020 and stay at the same tax rate in 2021.
  • Beginning in March 2017, the water-sewer tax will be assessed at a rate of $.295 per 1,000 gallons of water and $.295 per 1,000 gallons of sewer or a total of $.59 per 1,000 gallons of water-sewer use.
Rate per 1,000 gallons  (approximately)  
Year Tax (Water Portion) Tax (Sewer Portion) Total Tax (Water & Sewer Portion) Y-O-Y Tax Rate Increase
2017 $0.295 $0.295 $.59 7.7%
2018 $0.640 $0.640 $1.28 8.4%
2019 $1.005 $1.005 $2.01 8.2%
2020 $1.255 $1.255 $2.51 5.2%
2021 $1.255 $1.255 $2.51 0.0%

 

What will happen to MeterSave accounts that go above their MeterSave cap?  Will the tax be charged on the total water/sewer use or just what the residence was billed for?

  • For MeterSave residences, the water-sewer tax will only be assessed on the amount of water-sewer for which you are billed, not your total usage.

What will non-metered properties be charged?

  • Per the Municipal Code of Chicago, water usage is assessed based on factors including building size, lot size and other fixtures – such as, sinks, toilets, etc.  The water charge is calculated by assuming usage based on these factors.
  • Sewer charges are 100 percent of water charges.
  • Non-metered properties are charged the water-sewer tax based on the same method used to calculate water and sewer charges.
  • The tax will be phased-in over four years, starting in March 2017 through 2020 and stay at the same tax rate in 2021.
  • Beginning in March 2017, the water-sewer tax will be assessed at a rate $.295 per 1,000 gallons of water and $.295 per 1,000 gallons of sewer or a total of $.59 per 1,000 gallons of water-sewer use.
Rate per 1,000 gallons  (approximately)  
Year Tax (Water Portion) Tax (Sewer Portion) Total Tax (Water & Sewer Portion) Y-O-Y Tax Rate Increase
2017 $0.295 $0.295 $.59 7.7%
2018 $0.640 $0.640 $1.28 8.4%
2019 $1.005 $1.005 $2.01 8.2%
2020 $1.255 $1.255 $2.51 5.2%
2021 $1.255 $1.255 $2.51 0.0%


I’m a non-metered account.  How do I sign up for a meter?

  • Chicago’s MeterSave program installs residential water meters free of charge to promote water conservation and save customers as much as 40 percent on their water and sewer costs.
  • Homeowners participating in MeterSave are eligible for seven-year guarantee that their home water bill will be no higher than it would have been if the meter had not been installed.
  • To learn more about the program, call 3-1-1 or visit www.metersave.org.

I’m a senior. Will I receive any reduction in the tax?

  • Seniors who receive the senior citizen sewer exemption (seniors who live in their own home and are individually metered) will continue to receive the exemption.
  • This exemption reduces eligible senior’s total water and sewer bill by 50 percent by removing sewer charges. With this exemption, seniors will also see a 50 percent reduction in the tax on water-sewer usage as the tax will only be charged to the water portion of a senior’s bill.

What happens if I do not pay the water-sewer tax?

  • A penalty accrues at a rate of 1.25 percent per month on late balances, including tax charges.
  • A property owner may have their water shut off for failure to pay their unified utility bill after multiple notifications.
  • There are multiple payment plan options for residents to pay their utility bills.

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