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City of Chicago Water Affordability analysis

Water affordability is a growing concern. Over the past decade, the average residential water rate went up by almost 80% in northeastern Illinois, and many households will soon find their water bills unaffordable if water rates continue to rise at the expected pace. The City of Chicago Water Affordability Analysis from Elevate and Metropolitan Planning Council shows the state of water affordability in Chicago by using water billing data from Chicago’s residential water customers.

The study found that water burden – the percentage of a household’s income that goes toward paying water bills – in Chicago is significant. Chicago’s lowest income households are the most burdened and pay on average almost 10% of their income on their water bill, double the commonly used U.S. EPA threshold of 4.5%.

Key findings from the analysis include: