Aqua Illinois customers in Champaign and Vermilion counties soon will pay a little more every time they turn on their faucet.
But the water-rate hike approved by the Illinois Commerce Commission this week is significantly lower than the increase the utility company originally requested 10 months ago.
Under the increase, which takes effect Friday, the average monthly residential bill will go from $55.34 to $57.15 — an increase of $1.81.
"I'm really pleased with the final result," Aqua Illinois area manager Bob Ervin said. "Basically ... that turns out to be about six cents a day."
Ervin said average households typically consist of about 3 people using 4,500 gallons of water a month.
He pointed out that a single occupant typically uses about 1,000 gallons a month. So, those customers' bills would go from $30.25 to $30.63 — a 38-cent increase.
"There's a lot of fear out there ... about what this is going to do to senior citizens and people on limited incomes," Ervin said. But "that's only a penny a day."
Ervin added the overall rate schedule will impact various areas of the state differently.
So "some areas saw larger rate hikes, while some even saw a decrease," he said, pointing out this area's average increase is much lower than the state average of $6.24 a month.
In May, Aqua Illinois asked the ICC for about a $12 million increase to pay for infrastructure improvements to increase reliability and water quality throughout its systems. Under that scenario, the average residential bill would have increased by $5.42 a month to $60.76.
Ervin said the lower rate was made possible by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Acts of 2017, aimed at cutting taxes on individuals and businesses, stimulating the economy and creating jobs. It substantially reduces the corporate tax rate from a maximum of 35 percent to a flat rate of 21 percent, and is estimated to save the water company about $4.5 million.
"We didn't anticipate that when we filed the case," Ervin said "Four dollars out of (the proposed rate) was attributed to the tax bill, so we passed it on to the customers."
Since its last rate increase was approved in 2012, Aqua Illinois has invested about $20 million locally in infrastructure and other water quality improvements.
Ervin said the company doesn't anticipate filing another rate case with the ICC for six to eight years, barring any unforeseen event.
Aqua Illinois serves 53 communities in 13 Illinois counties, including Philo in Champaign County and Danville, Tilton, Indianola, Catlin, Westville, Belgium and some other unincorporated areas in Vermilion County.
More drops in the bucket
A look at how Aqua Illinois' rate increase will affect users' monthly bills:
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FAMILY OF FOUR
Source: Aqua Illinois