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Water Affordability in Northeastern Illinois: Addressing Water Equity in a Time of Rising Costs

This report reveals that current methods for analyzing and identifying water affordability challenges are currently evolving. Some of the older approaches can mask the impact of rising water rates and stagnant incomes experienced by our most vulnerable households. New analyses indicate just how widespread water burden is, as well as the relationship between water burden, segregation, and income inequality.

In fact, this report shows that half of the region’s municipalities have at least one census tract where the lowest income earners are water burdened.

Workable solutions begin with recognizing the impact rising water service costs have on some households, and then implementing rate structures, policies and programs that alleviate the financial impacts of rising water bills on customers who are unable to pay. Because every community is unique, a one-size-fits-all water affordability solution does not exist. Moreover, communities cannot go it alone — effective solutions will require not only utility or municipal-level solutions, but also action and assistance from all levels of government (county, regional, state, federal) as well as non-governmental organizations.

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