Chicago Homeowners Steamed Over Water Bill

Metered billing saves money

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    LONDON - JULY 9: A glass is filled with water from the tap July 9, 2003 in London, England. The House of Lords are today considering plans to force water companies to add flouride to the drinking water supply. Opponents to the scheme describe the idea as "mass poisoning", while a seperate report states that drinking water has never been so good. (Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images)

    Some Chicago homeowners are drowning in debt because their water bills are too high.

    Others with larger homes and more consumption are paying less because they took advantage of a free city program that encouraged homeowners to switch from an estimation system to a metered system of billing, the Sun-Times reports.  

    Unlike most homes in the suburbs, 71-percent of single-family homes in Chicago still fail to use meters. Instead they receive their water bills based on a formula that takes into account the widths of their buildings and lots, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

    In 2009, Mayor Daley launched the so-called "Meter Save" program to entice Chicago residents to voluntarily switch to water meters at the city's expense.

    The city also issued a seven-year guarantee that water bills during that period would not rise above normal levels for non-metered residents who chose to switch. One year later, only 2 percent of eligible homeowners have signed on for the free meter program, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

    "There has been this misconception that , if you get a meter, you will pay more... so they went through the volunteer route. And that hasn't gone over well," said a former top official to the Chicago Sun-Times.

    City officials can install up to 15,000 meters a year. So far, they have only installed about 2,500 devices.

    Find more details about the investigation in the Chicago Sun-Times.