YORKVILLE – While the city’s leaders grapple with a major decision over the future of Yorkville’s water supply, rate-paying residents have been taking notice and asking questions.
“I’ve even been stopped at church,” Mayor John Purcell said.
A recent open house at Yorkville City Hall concerning the water source question was well-attended, with residents learning about the challenge facing the community and the potential solutions.
The problem is simple: The ground water supply serving the city’s deep wells is being depleted. What’s more, the city’s population continues to grow at a rapid pace.
The decision comes down to whether Yorkville will tap into the Fox River or Lake Michigan as a water source and how to make that happen.
With Montgomery and Oswego facing precisely the same question, there are various possibilities, including collaborative efforts or go-it-alone options.
But for the typical homeowner who just wants to turn on the kitchen faucet, water the lawn or flush the toilet, the question also is simple: What’s it going to cost?
Purcell, aldermen and city staff members have been upfront about that answer.
“We know our rates are going to go up,” Purcell said.
By 2030, the price paid for water consumption by Yorkville residents is expected to double.
However, some residents are imagining the increase to be worse than it actually will be. There are a couple of reasons.
One is because residents receive their utility bills on what the city describes as a bi-monthly basis.
While some linguists would argue that the correct term is semimonthly, the reality is that Yorkville residents receive their utility bills every other month, for service covering a two-month period.
The most significant reason is that the utility bill includes much more than just water consumption. There are fees for garbage collection, sanitary sewer service and road infrastructure.
Most households receive a bill for more than $250 each billing cycle.
“They think that thing is going to triple or double, and it’s not, it’s just the water portion,” Purcell told aldermen at a recent meeting.
For the average household using 5,500 gallons of water per month, the cost will go from about $47 now to somewhere between $91 and $101 by 2030.
That’s about an extra $100 or so per billing cycle.
“You’re looking at about a $55 per month increase in the water bill over the next nine years,” Purcell said, adding that in the future he intends to focus his message on the actual dollar amount.
Every billing cycle, residents pay infrastructure fees of $16.50 for water, $8 for sewer and for $16 roads, to cover past improvement costs of those systems.
All three of those fees are scheduled to be discontinued on April 30, 2022.
There also is a sewer maintenance fee of $20.87 per billing cycle.
For refuse collection, the fee is $36.42 per billing cycle for a 65-gallon or 95-gallon tote, or $35.22 for a 35-gallon tote. Seniors get a discounted rate.
Finally, a sewer use charge from the Yorkville-Bristol Sanitary District also appears on the city of Yorkville utility bill. The minimum charge is $76.11, or more depending on usage.
Engineering Enterprises Inc., the Sugar Grove consulting firm that has been working with the city, has concluded that whatever solution the city chooses for its new water supply, the costs for the various options would be similar.
The firm’s Jeff Freeman is recommending that Yorkville make the switch by 2030.
The Fox River options include Yorkville cooperating with Montgomery and Oswego to develop a single water treatment plant serving the three communities, or tapping into the river on its own.
To draw water from Lake Michigan, the most likely option appears to be a connection with the DuPage Water Commission system.
Another Lake Michigan option would be for Yorkville to join the currently forming Joliet Regional Water Commission, or connect to the Illinois Lake Water system, a private utility from Plainfield.