SECURE LOCAL CONTROL OF PEORIA WATER
Peoria’s water system is privately owned -- which means a corporation is profiting off the water of Peoria residents. And they are profiting big time: Peoria water rates are twice the national average and much higher what some neighboring cities charge.
Peoria’s livelihood, now and for generations to come, depends on the continued supply of clean, affordable water, a resource that is currently controlled by an out-of-state corporation operating under its state arm, Illinois American Water. Not only is public ownership cheaper, it actually provides many benefits to the community.
Public water systems are often used to attract residents, businesses and job creators. Municipally owned water systems have much greater latitude to assist with local economic development goals and can offer rates to entice new businesses or help existing ones expand or remain. Privately-owned utilities generally do not participate in these economic development opportunities.
Not only is public ownership cheaper, it actually provides many benefits to the community.
THE STUDY IS IN
In September 2016 the Water Infrastructure Objective Study Committee released the first independent, objective, fact-based and comprehensive study of Peoria’s private water system in the city’s history. This eighteen-month effort reflects a comparative analysis of best practices of financial and operational experiences in communities across Illinois and the nation. The primary desire for the study is to share the results and recommendations with the ultimate decision-makers: the Mayor and the City Council, as well as the community at-large.
SAVE $$: ACT NOW
The time for Peoria to take back their water system is NOW. The study was pursued by the CEO Council because water is our most vital resource. We need it to live, and it is the essential element to our region’s personal and economic growth.
This report is timely because the option to repurchase only occurs every five years. The next option to purchase is in 2018. Peoria water rates have increased nearly 60% since 2003. In two years, over a third of US households could be unable to pay their water bills.
Now, Peoria understands what is at stake: money, transparency, and future economic growth.
More than 85 percent of the U.S. population is served by publicly owned water systems. Most communities in central Illinois – East Peoria, Peoria Heights, Washington, Morton, etc. – are served by public water systems. Public systems, regulated by local officials, are transparent regarding finances, rates, expenses and capital investment. Similar information is not available under private ownership.
Peorians voted overwhelmingly not to re-municipalize the water system in a public referendum held more than a decade ago. That time, the private company protected their profits by running a campaign against pursuing the purchase. There was no corresponding educational counter-campaign advocating for the other position. Now, Peoria understands what is at stake: money, transparency, and future economic growth.
Maryann is a Fall Grassroots & Media Intern for Food & Water Watch