The Department of Water Management oversees the construction and maintenance of Chicago’s city-owned water and sewer infrastructure. DWM is the third-largest operating department by headcount.
Similar to the Department of Aviation, the Department of Water Management is self-funding: appropriations are drawn from the city’s sewer and water funds, as well as grants, rather than from the general corporate fund.
Snapshot: Appropriation & Staffing Changes from 2023 Budget
|2023 Budgeted||2024 Proposed||Net Change||Percent Change|
|Positions & FTEs||2483||2482||-1||-0.04%|
- Capital construction funded by the city’s water and sewer funds are categorized as “Finance General” expenses, and are not included in DWM’s budget. Those appropriations add millions of dollars to the city’s overall sewer and water costs, most recently $133.7 million in the 2023 budget and $106.1 million proposed for the 2024 budget, but are not reflected in departmental appropriations.
- The department budget is up a net increase of $13.5 million, a 3.5% increase over the previous year, primarily driven by the addition of a Community Development Block Grant-funded $23 million in the construction of buildings and structures appropriation.
- DWM’s outside contracting budget is down significantly, with a -53.4% reduction to $18.3 million in the 2024 proposal.
- Staffing changed very little, with a net headcount decrease of one position and some shifting of titles and positions. Three new titles were added, with one position budgeted for each: Assistant Engineer of Water Purification, Assistant Payroll Administrator and Senior Equity Officer.
The department of Water Management’s operating budgets have remained relatively consistent over recent years, with spending and staffing growth tracking close to overall citywide increases. However, the separate “Capital Construction” appropriations from the water and sewer fund under the Finance General category account have accounted for an additional $1.7 billion in water-related expenses since the appropriation was introduced in the 2013 budget, an average of roughly $152 million annually.
From 2011-2023, the department budget grew at an average rate of 4.0% per year. Departmental budgets overall increased an average of 5.9% per year over the same time period, while the total city budget including Finance General appropriations grew at an average rate of 8.2% annually.
The department’s budgeted workforce grew at a rate of roughly 1.0% annually from 2011-2023. Overall budgeted positions for the city remained relatively flat across the same time period, with minor year-to-year fluctuations averaging out to an overall growth rate of -0.04%.
Staffing changed very little, with a net headcount decrease of one position and some shifting of titles and positions. Three new titles were added, with one position budgeted for each: Assistant Engineer of Water Purification, Assistant Payroll Administrator and Senior Equity Officer.
With its large headcount, DWM’s largest appropriation by far is salaries and wages, $232.9 million in the 2024 budget proposal. Overtime is the second-largest at $26.7 million.
DWM also carries significant non-personnel expense categories, including drugs/medicine/chemical materials (primarily for water treatment), material and supplies, repair parts and material, etc.
The 2024 budget also adds a new $23 million construction of buildings and structures appropriation, funded by a Community Development Block Grant, which on its own is the fourth-largest single-category appropriation in the department’s proposed budget.
Change from Previous Year
The addition of the new Community Development Block Grant-funded $23 million appropriation for construction of buildings and structures is by far the largest single-appropriation increase in the proposed 2024 budget. Maintenance and construction costs are also up significantly, with a $3 million increase nearly doubling the appropriation.
DWM’s largest budget cut comes in a -53.4% reduction in the professional and technical services appropriation, down from $39.2 million to $18.3 million.