Water Outsourcing Bill On Governor's Desk

Jul 23, 2013

Credit Mike Moen/WNIJ

Public water outsourcing could change dramatically under a bill sitting before Illinois' governor. The measure has produced many critics, who say it would harm consumers.

Illinois lawmakers have approved legislation they say would help municipalities struggling to manage aging water and sewer infrastructure. The bill would expedite the acquisitions of these systems by private companies. It would allow them to bypass the current review process for seeking rate hikes that would fund these deals.

Jim Chilsen of the Citizens Utility Board says that's a key provision that shouldn't be removed.

"If you're going to raise Illinois consumer's bills, there should be a traditional 11 month review process," Chilsen said.

But the bill's sponsor, Democratic Representative Brandon Phelps of Harrisburg, says consumers would still be protected because the Illinois Commerce Commission would still need to approve the rate hikes.

"We just want to give towns another weapon to make sure they have good water and sewer systems," Phelps said.

Pat Quinn's office says the governor is reviewing the bill. It's unclear yet whether he intends to sign it