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Chicago's Water Taxes Telling of Increasing Costs Across U.S.

November 16, 2017

Years ago, the city of Chicago approved a $7 billion plan to replace 900 miles of century-old water pipe and repair 750 miles of sewer line, without raising taxes.

Now, Chicago area business owners and residents are paying extra money for their water in the form of a water and sewer tax, approved last year by the Chicago City Council and Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The tax began appearing on utility bills in March 2017 and will be phased in over four years. It was approved in order to support mandated pension payments for the retirements of many municipal employees.

Chicago's Water Taxes Telling of Increasing Costs Across U.S.

The city also approved a small rate increase that went into effect in June 2017 to cover costs of maintenance for the local network of purification plants, tunnels, pumping stations, water mains, sewer mains, valves, and structures. The Chicago Tribune regularly reports on its investigation of the area's water systems, and previously found that rates are disproportionately higher in some places and wasted water is prevalent.

Across the U.S., both rates and taxes for water are also going up. In some places, the higher demand is stretching natural resources, while other locations are dealing with old and broken-down infrastructure:

One opportunity to counteract the high costs is to use water more efficiently. Some options have higher upfront costs, such as replacing equipment, but there are other opportunities to reduce water costs.

Subscribers to SOL VISTA's Skywalk® platform benefit from Skywalk Advisor alerts, which provide site-specific alerts and recommendations when unusually high use is detected. The feature is included with all Skywalk subscriptions, along with regular monitoring and reporting of utility usage—all of which help to lower water costs.

Some Skywalk subscribers have chosen to go even deeper, including Hotel Monaco DC and the Mondrian Los Angeles. SOL VISTA helped these properties with onsite projects which reduced water use by 18% and 48%, respectively, saving the hotels tens of thousands of dollars annually.

Skywalk®, SOL VISTA's proprietary SaaS platform, empowers commercial building owners and managers to improve the performance and profitability of their buildings.

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