O'Fallon Progress

Shiloh is thinking ahead for spring, summer with new sewer credit policy

Will you be using your outdoor water hose to wash your car or give the garden a drink, or maybe even to fill your swimming pool next spring and summer?

The Village of Shiloh is thinking ahead for its residents’ water needs for the use of water not entering the village’s sewer system. According to village administrator John Marquart, the village already advises residents calling to inquire about sewer credits to contact IAW. Implementing a sewer bill credit for the gallons of water used through an outdoor water hose, and/or irrigation system where water is being used, but not entering the village’s sanitary sewer system for treatment is still under review by staff and trustees, but is not an ordinance as of yet.

“It’s kind of a program in flux at this time,” Marquart said. “Right now if you have an irrigation system Illinois American Water will put a separate meter on your system that is different than your house meter so water used for irrigation is not reflected on your sewer bill. So you can do that right now.”

Marquart said, Shiloh staff encourages inquiring residents to “touch base with Illinois American Water first, but we are looking to expand on that in terms of where people would go to purchase a meter for the outdoor water hose and things like that, but we haven’t gotten that far just yet, but we are exploring options because we’ve gotten a number of calls from people who have swimming pools to see what the village can do to help cut sewer costs.”

There are some communities like New Baden and Swansea, that work with people who come to them with a meter reading 12,000 gallons of used water for filling a pool or water a garden, and “the municipality will whack that 12,000 gallons off their sewer bill.”

Marquart said he is confident the village will have something in place by the time spring 2017 rolls around.

“We’re working on it, but now we are still presenting ideas to the board before moving forward with a definite concept,” Marquart said.

“It is up to each city or municipality to set up a procedure on how they handle sewer billing for their residents. In most cases, the city owns and operates the community sewer system; we own (and) operate the water system. Some municipalities will give a one-time, annual adjustment on a sewer bill to homeowners who water their lawns, gardens or fill up swimming pools or hot tubs,” Terry Mackin, Illinois American Water representative, said.

Here’s how it works in most communities, according to Mackin.

“The homeowner purchases a meter from a hardware store. The homeowner attaches the meter to their outdoor faucet or hose. Some municipalities require the customer to bring the meter itself to the city so they can verify the reading in the spring, and then again in the fall so they can calculate the water usage that did not go into the sewer. But various municipalities handle it differently,” Mackin said.

According to Mackin, Illinois American Water water customers have the option of having a separate water service and meter installed at their residence that only serves their irrigation (lawn sprinkler) system. In turn, water usage captured by these meters is not reported to their municipality for sewer.

New Baden Village Clerk Teri Crane said the water department is not outsourced but rather owned by the municipality, “which makes matters more easily traceable.”

“We are apart of the Summerfield Lebanon Mascoutah Water Commission water district, and that’s where we purchase our water from,” Crane said.

Crane said on average the sewer bill credit is done on an annual basis, and began in 2012.

“They can put it directly on the hose or faucet after purchasing the meter from a local hardware store to track outdoor water flow usage,” Crane said.

New Baden requires residents to register his or her water flow usage meter with the water department so staff is aware of its existence.

“Roughly every October or so, residents will bring their meters back in for reading that we will give an annual sewer credit issued on the sanitary sewer bill,” she said.

There is a $10 service charge annually, and most often savings can range anywhere from $20-$300 in credit, Crane said.

“If residents want to have an additional meter installed for the irrigation sprinkler system on the property, the charge is about $100,” she said.

New Baden charges $9 for every 1,000 gallons of water used, “so for 10,000 gallons you pay about $90.”

“The credit savings really varies across the board,” Crane said.

There are about 80 registered water flow usage meters currently.

“By not limiting the type of allowable meters, it gives people more freedom to chose what kind best suites their needs,” Crane said.

According to Crane, there are about seven different styles that she has come across in the last four years, and they all function similarly.

“We haven’t had many issues with them, and the residents seem to really love it,” Crane said. “But we do stress to people to make sure the meters are connected properly because we have had some in the past improperly installed backwards, which makes tracking the usage precisely trickier.”