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.