|What are the Costs of Water Supplies?
All water has a price. Some costs are related to accessing a source and the system for
water distribution/transport. Others are for treatment before and after usage. Even rural residents
must pay to have a well drilled and piping installed. Due to frequent hardness and iron in waters
from shallow aquifers, rural residents also must pay a continuing cost for water treatment. Use of
bottled water has mushroomed in recent years, and represents another cost.
Costs of water treated for public consumption vary widely across the state. Most
providers sell water by volume, but some do not. A Chicago residence receives water at a fixed
monthly cost, regardless of how much is used. Conversely, many suburbs charge by quantity
used. For example, the average rate for Chicago suburbs that use Lake Michigan water is $3.23
per 1000 gallons, compared to $2.08 in Champaign, and $2.64 in De Kalb.
Some public systems are privately owned, but many others are owned by the community.
Costs of water in Illinois also differ greatly from those in the drier West. Water rates in Boulder,
Colorado, are two to three times higher than rates in most Illinois communities, and rates in
Billings, Montana, range from three to four times higher than most rates in Illinois. Municipal
water costs $4.70 per 1000 gallons in Fresno, California, and $15.30 in Ft. Worth, Texas,
compared to less than $4.00 in most Illinois communities. Some Illinois municipalities even have
rates that decrease as usage goes up. For example, the rate in Marion for the first 5,000 gallons
used, $3.70 per 1000 gallons, decreases to $3.30 per 1000 gallons for the next 5,000 gallons, and
then drops to $3.10 if use exceeds 40,000 gallons. In contrast, Boulder, Colorado, charges $5.70
per 1000 gallons for 5,000 gallons or less per month, but the rate jumps to $6.25 for usage in
excess of 5,000 gallons.
Water rates in most Illinois communities have grown over time, generally keeping up
with the rate of inflation.