Do not publish before
You’re welcome to republish our articles and graphics for free under Creative Commons license CC BY-ND. We ask that you observe the following ground rules. Let us know if you republish our stories; it makes us happy!
Here’s what you need to know:
- You can’t change the story in any way except to change references to timing (say, “today” to “yesterday”) or to suit your in-house style rules (“Rockford” to “Rockford, Ill.”).
- If you have space constraints and want to shorten the story, we’re happy to consider your request. Please contact our Director of Investigations for approval. We will occasionally provide a shortened version of stories, which you would find below.
- You can republish provided photos and graphics as long as you’re running them on the stories with which they originally appeared and include original credits. You are not required to publish provided photos and graphics.
- Publish the author’s name using the following format: By John Lippert , Better Government Association. Link back to our home page, bettergov.org, in that credit line.
- At the end of the story, when possible, please add the following: This story was produced by the Better Government Association, a nonprofit news organization based in Chicago. (This is automatically included if copying from HTML textarea.)
- Include our logo.
- Don’t resell the story to someone else.
- Don’t sell ads against our story. Feel free, however, to publish it on a page surrounded by ads you’ve already sold.
- If you publish our story online, please try your best to include all of our internal links. Don't apply
rel="nofollow"to any of these links.
- If we send you a request to remove the content from your site, you must agree to do so immediately.
Tracking our stories:
Because the Better Government Association syndicates our work for free, we often have trouble tracking down how many people read BGA stories on our partners’ sites. We’ve implemented a tracker called Pixel Ping to help measure this audience. If your CMS allows, please assist us in this effort by including the code snippet below anywhere in the story's HTML. The tracker captures views only; no other information will be gathered.
How to do this:
If you copy the HTML in the textarea below, the script is automatically included.
Otherwise, please manually insert the following script into your source.
<script async src="https://pixel.bettergov.org/pixel.js" crossorigin="anonymous" data-bga-canonical="https://www.bettergov.org/news/joliet-residents-protest-plan-to-hike-water-rates/"></script>
When sharing republished BGA content, please include attribution to BGA social media accounts in your post:
Have questions? Please contact John Chase, director of investigations, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joliet Residents Protest Plan To Hike Water Rates
Mayor Bob O’Dekirk’s proposal to build a billion-dollar pipeline to access Lake Michigan water from Chicago rankles some Joliet activists who say the costs should fall harder on major companies that use the most water.
Copy article content:
You are viewing the original version (853 words).
A small but vocal group of protesters gathered on the steps of Joliet city hall on Monday night to rail against Mayor Robert O’Dekirk’s controversial plan to solve a looming water crisis by tripling rates on homes throughout the area.
Chanting slogans such as “Water is a human right, not just for the rich and white!” the group also brandished picket signs and suggested any new rate increases should fall more heavily on the biggest guzzlers — large companies, including warehouse operators such as Amazon.
“We’re not even what you’d consider moderate-income families any more,” said protester Danganetta Harris, a resident of nearby Fairmont, which buys water from Joliet. “If my bill triples, how will I be able to take care of my sons and my other bills?”
Asked to comment before the 45-minute rally of about 20 protesters, O’Dekirk released an emailed statement saying he’s open to revising Joliet’s water rates. But, he said, it’s “difficult to imagine” how higher rates for Amazon and other big companies could materially lower rates for 50,000 Joliet households.
The controversy enveloping Joliet centers on a looming crisis throughout northeastern Illinois as the loss of groundwater through overuse has political leaders, industrialists and their customers scrambling for alternate sources of water, according to a Better Government Association report in September.
The rally was organized in response to O’Dekirk’s grandiose plan of up to $1.4 billion to switch the region’s water source from the drying underground aquifers to Lake Michigan by building a massive 31-mile pipeline to the city of Chicago.
The protesters, which included Joliet City Councilman Cesar Guerrero, called for a “graduated water tax” that will shift a bigger share of the financial burden onto the companies that use the most water.
“Amazon and others like them can absolutely afford to pay just a little bit more so that our working-class families won’t have to make those decisions between paying their light bills, their gas bills, and their water bills,” Guerrero said. “Our people are struggling enough as it is.”
Officials from Amazon didn’t respond to requests for comment.
City officials have said rates will need to triple in order to pay the debt on the construction and land acquisition for the pipeline, set to be completed by 2030. However, some officials worry cost overruns could force much bigger increases.
Joliet residents now pay an average of $34 per month for water, records show.
Amazon has become a flashpoint in the controversy because of its rapid expansion of warehouses, the growing traffic congestion across the region, and the millions in public incentives and tax abatements the company has received to bring 3,500 jobs to Joliet.
On Thursday, the Joliet Plan Commission is scheduled to consider a revised zoning agreement with Compass Business Park, which would bring dozens of additional warehouses to what is now mostly farmland south and east of the city.
That project alone was set to use 450,000 gallons of water per day before it was expanded by almost a third last month. In total, Joliet uses about 15 million gallons a day.
Roberto Clack, executive director of Warehouse Workers for Justice and an organizer of Monday’s rally, said that since Amazon uses 100 times more water than an average household, asking the company to pay more would help lower costs for individual rate payers across the city.
Joliet currently discounts water rates for some residents. For example, senior citizens who own their homes pay an access fee of $6.18 per month. They also pay $2.26 for their first 200 cubic feet of water. After that, they pay $3.37 for every 100 cubic feet they use.
However, renters and industrial users don’t get the same discounts. They each pay the same $6.18 per month access fee. But renters and industrial users pay $3.62 for their first 200 cubic feet of water. After that, they pay $5.47 for every 100 cubic feet, no matter how much.
At Monday’s rally, organizers urged Joliet to study the County of Baltimore, which charges $68.06 per 1,000 cubic feet of water for residential customers and $71.71 for industrial users.
In a presentation last month, Joliet’s consultants promised to soften the impact of higher rates with conservation measures that include encouraging residents to take shorter showers. They also pledged to tap federal rate subsidies for low-income households.
O’Dekirk has said he hopes surrounding towns will sign up to share the costs and benefits of his pipeline.
His plan faces a big test next month when the village of Oswego begins voting on its new water source. O’Dekirk’s vision is among three options the nearby town is considering. Oswego has joined with nearby Yorkville and Montgomery to choose among three options: signing up with Joliet, buying water from the DuPage Water Commission or building an intake that would access water from the Fox River.
Capital costs for the three towns would be cheaper with the DuPage option than with Joliet, according to a staff report attached to the agenda for an Oswego trustee meeting scheduled for tonight.
This story was produced by the Better Government Association, a nonprofit news organization based in Chicago.
|Download 20211115_172114 1.png (2.92 MB)||John Lippert/BGA|