The Metropolitan Planning Council debuted their latest report, Water Affordability in Northeastern Illinois, with a presentation and Q&A session at the February TAC meeting. The report examined the nuances around water affordability and pricing.
Water rates in Northeastern Illinois have gone up 80% over the past 10 years with many contributing factors, notably the need to replace aging water and sewer infrastructure. The report looked at different methods to measure affordability and water burden and tried to ask the question if unaffordable rates were an income inequality issue, a water pricing issue, or both.
MPC researchers, in partnership with the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant and Elevate Energy, found that 52% of municipalities in the Chicago region have at least 1 census tract where water bills are a high burden on household finances. This measurement is based off of looking at the cost of water for the lowest earning income quintile – traditionally, affordability measures look solely at Median Household Income.
Solutions will need to vary by community and type of affordability challenges present. MPC is looking to sit down with communities to talk about the findings and community-specific affordability challenges and strategies. If you’re interested in learning more, contact Justin Keller at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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