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October 19, 2017

10/4/2017 3:03:00 PM
Evanston and Skokie Fight Over Charges for Water
Larry Gavin

On Sept. 26, the City of Evanston filed a lawsuit against the Village of Skokie, seeking a court ruling that Evanston may charge Skokie $2.06 per 1,000 gallons of Lake Michigan water that Evanston treats and distributes to Skokie.

The complaint alleges that Evanston operates a water treatment plant and that it has treated and distributed water from Lake Michigan to Skokie since 1944. Skokie in turn sells and distributes the water to its residents. A 20-year contract that governed the relationship expired on Dec. 31, 2016.

After that date, Evanston and Skokie have attempted to negotiate a new long-term contract, but they have reached an impasse in the negotiations.  Evanston wants $2.06 per 1,000 gallons, and the complaint alleges that Skokie’s preferred rate is $0.70 per 1,000 gallons.

The complaint alleges there is no written agreement between Evanston and Skokie, but says there is an implied agreement that Evanston will supply water to Skokie, and, in addition, under Illinois law, Evanston cannot stop providing water to Skokie unless and until Skokie secures an alternative water supply from another source.

Evanston is thus bound to provide water to Skokie, but the parties have been unable to agree on a rate.

On Sept. 25, Evanston’s City Council adopted an ordinance establishing a new rate for water supplied to Skokie at $2.06 per 1,000 gallons of water, starting Oct. 1. A memorandum from David Stoneback, Evanston’s Public Works Agency Director, said the new rate is based on applicable ratemaking principles of the American Water Works Association M-1 Manual. In addition, the memorandum says the rate is reasonable when compared to rates charged by neighboring communities. As an example, Chicago charges other municipalities $3.38 per 1,000 gallons.

The complaint also acknowledges, though, that Evanston has a contract to provide Morton Grove-Niles water at the rate of $0.78 per 1,000 gallons in 2018.

The complaint asks the court to find and declare that the rate of $2.06 per 1,000 gallons is a reasonable rate to charge Skokie for water. Despite requests,

Skokie’s Village Manager did not provide a comment for this article.

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