Joliet monthly water bills would roughly triple to $90 a month by 2030 whether the city buys from Chicago or builds its own pipeline to Indiana for Lake Michigan water, according to a presentation to the City Council this week.

The projection is in line with past forecasts on rate increases needed to pay for the Lake Michigan project.

Those costs can range from $725 million to nearly $1.7 billion depending on which route the city takes and whether it builds for Joliet-only or a regional water system.

The presentation by the water project consulting team laid out more details on the plans after months of study and negotiations with Chicago and Hammond as the city prepares to make a decision in January on which route to take.

The presentation will be posted on the city's water project website, rethinkwaterjoliet.org, which includes information about the project and upcoming meetings that people can attend online.

Joliet Utilities Director Allison Swisher told the council that "it will take every minute" of the next 10 years for Joliet to build the system that would bring Lake Michigan water into people's homes in 2030, the year that the aquifer now providing water is expected to be depleted to the point that it will not meet maximum demand.

"The aquifer is not sustainable, and we have to find other options," Swisher said.

The City Council would have to approve any water rate increases. But the consulting team provided a forecast on rate increases needed to pay for the project.

Rates would increase by 10.5% to 12% through 2030 and by smaller amounts in subsequent years for either option, according to projections presented by Project Manager Joe Johnson.

Johnson said the rate increases are "not out of the realm of reality" of what other communities will face in the same period. But, he added, "We do have to realize that Joliet is a very long way from Chicago, from Lake Michigan. It's going to cost more to get water out here."

Under the Indiana option, monthly water bills are expected to reach $93.15 by 2030 and $149 by 2040.

Under the Chicago option, monthly bills would reach $90 by 2030 and $143 by 2040.

The cost of building the systems was estimated both in 2020 dollars and an escalating scale taking into account inflation over the next 10 years.

Using the escalating scale, the Chicago plan would cost $725 million for a Joliet-only system and $993 million for a regional system with twice the capacity.

The Indiana plan would cost nearly $1.3 billion for a Joliet-only system and almost $1.7 billion for a regional system.

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