Water Bill Changes

The City of Aurora recently added a $2.05 charge on water bills for the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Mandated Long Term Control Plan Fee.

Reducing Overflows


The federal government is requiring that Aurora make approximately $120 million in improvements to its municipal sewer system in order to decrease the number of combined sewer system overflows (CSOs). The U.S. EPA has placed the financial burden of funding the improvements on taxpayers within the CSO communities across the nation. One hundred percent of the revenue generated from the $2.05 United States EPA Mandated Long Term Control Plan Fee will be used to meet federal requirements.

While the City realizes that new fees in a tough economy are never easy to accept, the small amount being added to water bills pales in comparison to the millions in legal costs and fines that would result if Aurora did not comply with this federal mandate.

During large rainfalls when stormwater overwhelms the capacity of the pipes, combined sewer systems are designed to discharge the overflow into local waterways in order to minimize street flooding and basement back-ups. The overflow points are regulated and permitted through the United States Environmental Protection Agency in cooperation with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

Since 2005, Aurora has made nearly $50 million in improvements to the municipal sewer system. In addition, the City and Fox Metro Water Reclamation District has made another $150 million in improvements over the past three decades. These combined upgrades have greatly reduced the number of CSOs from 1100 in 1983 to 198 in 2010. Unfortunately, these decreases are not enough to meet federally-mandated guidelines.

Long Term Control Plans


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) has mandated that all 775 communities that utilize combined sewer systems in the country develop and implement a long-term control plan (LTCP) to significantly reduce CSO's into the nation's waterways. Failure to do so will result in State or Federal enforcement actions including civil penalties and criminal sanctions that could run into the millions of dollars.

This bill also reflects a small increase in residential water rates. Since the late 1990s, the City has increased water rates between 2% and 5% annually in order to avoid large increases that may occur on an unpredictable schedule like those that have taken place in several neighboring municipalities. The increase is necessary to cover operating costs for providing some of the safest, best-tasting water in the nation, and to maintain the city's water distribution infrastructure.