Woodstock votes to hike water, sewer bills 12.5%

New rates to take effect May 1

A man fished Wednesday, May 24, 2023, near the fountain at Emricson Park in Woodstock.

Woodstock residents soon will see more expensive water and sewer bills.

The Woodstock City Council on Tuesday passed a 12.5% increase in water and sewer bills, which takes effect May 1.

A bill based on 2,200 cubic feet of usage – the average usage of a Woodstock residential customer – would see an increase from about $180 per quarter to about $202 per quarter, Woodstock Deputy City Manager Paul Christensen, who also is executive director of strategy and planning, said Wednesday.

The annual increase is about $90, he said.

That increase is higher than what was presented in the meeting packet and what the Northwest Herald reported Tuesday. The packet used last year’s numbers.

The City Council adopted the increase as part of its consent agenda, so city officials didn’t discuss the proposal.

Woodstock reviews the water and sewer rates annually, according to city documents.

The city adopted a 6.21% increase last April. A bill based on 2,200 cubic feet of usage saw a quarterly increase from $163 to $173 under that increase, according to city documents.

Woodstock approved another 3.76% increase to water and sewer bills in December. City documents indicate that an increase in bills was needed to fund the replacement of lead service lines in Woodstock.

Weather and green appliances are among the factors that affect water revenue, officials said in city documents.

“Weather can significantly influence outdoor water usage,” Christensen wrote in a 2023 memo.

Christensen went on to write that a summer drought could raise more revenue for the city’s Water and Sewer Fund, while outdoor water use could drop if summer weather is cold and wet.

Christensen wrote that water-saving toilets and shower heads that use less water also affect the water revenue in the city.

Christensen mentioned green appliances’ effect on the water system, writing that with the introduction of low-flow toilets and shower heads, “typical homes are continuing to use less water, as these devices are replaced by homeowners as part of normal upgrades. While these replacements are good for the environment, unfortunately, they result in the reduction in water sales that reduces revenue production.”

Unfunded Environmental Protection Agency mandates and “significant increases” in costs for chemicals needed to operate the system also were pointed to as justification for this year’s increase.

Christensen said Wednesday that one of the mandates was a federal EPA requirement regarding how the city disposes of sludge.

In both last year’s and this year’s memo, officials cited a study performed by Genoa in DeKalb County that examined 16 neighboring communities’ water and sewer rates. Woodstock was 14th on the list in 2023 and was 12th on the list in 2024.

Officials estimated that Tuesday’s increase would make the city climb another two spots to 10th on the list but said that is before other towns’ rate increases have been factored in.