Understanding Your Utility Bill

Water and sewer charges are dependent upon the type of utility account: metered or non-metered. You will find your utility bill account type (metered or non-metered) on the front of your bill. Water-sewer tax is applied in order to make certain mandated pension payments. Garbage fees are applied to your utility bill if your residence has city-provided garbage collection service. Please see the details regarding the types of charges on your unified utility bill below. 

Metered Water Charges

Metered accounts are billed based on the actual water usage measured by the water meter. Depending on the type of water meter installed on your property, water usage is measured in gallons or cubic feet. Water charges for metered accounts are calculated by multiplying the water usage by the water rate.  

For the current water and sewer rates, please see Water and Sewer Rates.

Metered accounts are billed on a monthly or bi-monthly basis, depending on the property type.

Periodically, the Department of Water Management (DWM) is unable to obtain an actual meter reading. When this occurs, you will receive an estimated bill. When DWM is able to obtain an actual meter reading you will receive a bill that reflects that actual usage. To avoid estimated reads that may inaccurately reflect actual usage, DWM encourages customers to request the installation of an automatic meter reader. You may contact the DWM at 312.747.2862 for more information.

Non-metered Water Charges

Non-metered accounts are assigned to properties that do not have a water meter to measure usage. Unlike metered accounts that are charged for water actually used, non-metered accounts are charged a flat rate, per the Municipal Code of Chicago, based on factors such as building size, lot size, and plumbing fixtures. On the back of non-metered utility bills, a breakdown of the calculated charges specific to the property is provided. For more information on non-metered charges, see Ch. 11-12-270 of the Municipal Code of Chicago.

Non-metered accounts are billed on a semiannual basis, or every six months. The billing periods are May 1-October 31 and November 1- April 30.

For information on volunteering to have a meter installed, please call 3-1-1 or visit www.metersave.org.

Sewer Charges

A separate sewer charge is also listed on all utility bills, regardless of metering status. The sewer charge is 100% of the water charge.

Water-Sewer Tax

Effective March 2017, utility bills include water-sewer tax charges. The revenue from this tax will be used to make certain mandated pension payments. The tax is charged to all non-exempt Chicago businesses and residences, and is billed as a separate line item on utility bills. Specific tax rates for each year are listed on the Water-Sewer Tax FAQ.

For non-metered properties, the water-sewer tax is calculated based on assessed water-sewer usage, as described above.

Garbage Fee

The garbage fee is charged to all properties that receive City of Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation garbage collection service. The fee is $9.50 per month per dwelling unit.

Late Payment Penalty 

A penalty accrues at a rate of 1.25% on late balances.

Billing Disputes

Before you dispute your bill, please take the time to understand your bill. 

If you still dispute your bill, you must contact Utility Billing & Customer Service at 312.744.4426 or send an email to utilitybill@cityofchicago.org to discuss billing issues. Your account will be reviewed to determine possible billing errors. In the meantime, you should make your payment to avoid late charges. If an adjustment is made to your account as a result of the dispute, you will receive a credit.

If you have been posted with a notice of water service termination, we recommend you pay on-line, over the phone or in-person at a City of Chicago Department of Finance Payment Center.

If you cannot pay your bill in full, there are payment plans available. More information is available under utility bill payment plans.

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