Chicago Sykline

Common Questions on Utility Services

1. How do I pay my utility bill?

For information on how to utility bill, please see Pay Your Utility Bill.

2. How do I get on a payment plan for water bills?

For information on utility bill payment plans, please see Utility Bill Payment Plans.

3. What are the upcoming water and sewer rate increases?

Effective June 1, 2016, and every year thereafter, the annual rates shall be adjusted upwards, if applicable, by applying to the previous year's rales the rate of inflation, calculated based on the Consumer Price Index - Urban Wage Eamers and Clerical Workers (Chicago All Items) published by the United Stales Bureau of Labor Statistics for the 365-day period ending on the most recent January 1. Any such annual increase, however, shall be capped at 105% of the previous year's rate.

Water and sewer rate increases are necessary to cover the on-going costs for removing the waste water and storm runoff from the streets of Chicago via our sewer system and delivering the effluent for treatment to the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. This is all accomplished through a network of purification plants, tunnels, pumping stations, water mains, sewer mains, valves and structures that require constant upkeep and maintenance.  These services are necessary to meet standards set by Environmental Protection Agency for water quality. At less than a penny per gallon, Chicago’s rates will remain among the lowest in the nation for fresh, clean water.

4. How do I dispute my utility bill?

For information on how to dispute your utility bill, please see Understanding Your Utility Bill.

5. How do I qualify for the Senior Sewer Exemption?

For information on the Senior Sewer Exemption and how to apply, please see Apply for Water and Sewer Charge Exemptions.

6. How do I qualify for the Not-for-profit Water and Sewer Exemption?

For information on the Not-for-profit Water and Sewer Exemption and how to apply, please see Apply for Water and Sewer Charge Exemptions.

7. How do I change the name on an account when a property has transferred or is going to be transferred? 

The owner’s name is changed through the Full Payment Certificate Process.  When real  property is transferred in the City of Chicago, the transferor is required by ordinance to obtain a Full Payment Certificate (FPC) from the Chicago Department of Finance. The FPC application serves as a request to the Department of Finance to transfer service out of the transferor’s name and into the transferee’s name. 

For more information on the Full Payment Certificate application process, please see Apply for Full Payment Certificate.

If you continue to receive bills in the prior owner’s name, please report this to the Department of Finance/Utility Billing and Collections Customer Service.   You may submit your change request by completing the Change of Owner Name/Mailing Address Form.  If the Department does not have a record of the Full Payment Certificate from your closing, you may be required to provide us with a copy of the deed and/ or full payment certificate.

8. What is a Full Payment Certificate or “FPC”?

For information on Full Payment Certificates and to download an application, please see  Full Payment Certificate.

9. How do I get a refund?

You may download a Refund Application. Complete the application and review it carefully.  Make certain it is filled out completely and all requested supporting documentation is attached.  An incomplete application will be denied due to insufficient documentation.

If approved, it may take up to 8 weeks to receive your refund.

10. How do I determine if I have a metered or non-metered account?

In the Blue Box next to the Billing Summary you will find information regarding how your water is measured.  It will state non-metered account or metered account.  

11. How are non-metered accounts billed?

For information on non-metered accounts, please see Understanding Your Utility Bill.

12. How are metered accounts billed?

For information on metered accounts, please see Understanding Your Utility Bill.

13. Why am I receiving an estimated bill?

Generally, meters are read every 60–70 days.  Periodically the Department of Water Management is unable to obtain an actual meter reading.  This may happen because we cannot pick up an electronic signal from your meter. When this occurs, you will receive an estimated bill.  When the Department of Water Management is able to obtain an actual meter reading you will receive a bill that reflects the actual usage.

To allow for greater ease of obtaining actual meter readings, the DWM encourages customers to request the installation of an automatic meter reader. You may contact the DWM at 312.747.2862 for more information.

14. I received a letter stating that my meter is running continuously, what does this mean?

This letter is sent to you as a courtesy to inform you of a possible water leak in or on your premises.  A meter running continuously is an indicator of a leak.  It may also be your typical water usage.   This is something that you should investigate.  You may want to consider hiring a qualified licensed plumber to locate and repair any leaks as soon as possible.

The Department of Finance is required by ordinance to bill and collect for all water usage registered on your water meter.  No account adjustments or billing cancellation can be made when, after registration, water has been used, wasted or lost through leakage.

15. I received an “Orange” Notice of Water Service Termination what does this mean? 

This means you are eligible for water shut-off as of the date on the notice due to non-payment.  To avoid water service termination, you must make payment arrangements before the shut-off date on the notice.

16.  I received a “Yellow” Notice of Water Service Termination what does this mean?

This means you are scheduled for water shut-off as of the date on the notice because DWM has been denied access to the water meter in the building.  To avoid water service termination, you must contact DWM at 312.747.9090 to schedule a reading of your meter within 10 days of the date on the notice.

17. What should I do if my water has been shut-off for non-payment?

  • You must pay your bill in full or, if you qualify, enter into a qualifying payment arrangement.
  • If your water has been shut off for 30 days or more you must sign a Release of Liability before water service can be restored. 

NOTE: If your water is illegally restored you will be assessed a fine of $500.00.  The Department of Water Management periodically inspects premises to determine if the water has been illegally restored.

18. How do I change my mailing address?  

Please complete a Change of Owner Name/Mailing Address Form with the updated mailing address. 

19. Can a tenant have the water bill put in their name? 

A property owner may request that water bills be sent in attention to the name of a tenant, however, this does not relieve the owner of the subject property from liability for unpaid utility charges.  Please complete a Change of Owner Name/Mailing Address Form to include the tenant’s name in the mailing address.

20. Does filing bankruptcy relieve me of outstanding utility charges?

If you have filed for Bankruptcy, please send a copy your bankruptcy notice via fax to 312.747.6894, email to utilitybilll@cityofchicago.org, or mail to P.O. Box 6330, Chicago, IL 60608.  Be sure to indicate your name and phone number on the cover.

Upon notification, your account will be updated to reflect that the bankruptcy was filed for the specified pre-petition charges.  You are responsible to pay all new post-petition charges in full and on time.  If your current charges are not paid, we have the right to proceed with collection efforts including the termination of your water service.

21. How do I remove my name from an account for a property lost in foreclosure?

If you have lost your property through a foreclosure and are still receiving a water bill, please provide a copy of the executed Foreclosure Deed via fax to 312.747.6894, email to utilitybilll@cityofchicago.org or mail to P.O. Box 6330, Chicago, IL 60608.  Be sure to indicate your name and phone number on the cover letter. Your account will be reviewed and the charges updated to reflect details of the foreclosure.

Please note you are responsible for all account charges up to the date of the foreclosure. Chicago’s Municipal Code provides that the titleholder of record is responsible for all water and sewer charges.  Until a Foreclosure Deed is executed, the borrower may still have certain rights to the property. If the foreclosure is only pending (Lis Pendens), and not yet executed, the titleholder of record remains liable for the water and sewer charges.

You may obtain a copy of the Foreclosure Deed from the Cook County Recorder of Deeds – www.ccrd.info.  You may determine the status of a foreclosure case with the Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court at www.cookcountyclerkofcourt.com / Online case info / Full electronic docket search / Chancery / (CH) / Search by Name or Case #.

22.  How do I obtain a Payoff Letter or a Lien Release?

To obtain a Payoff Letter or a Lien Release please fax your request to 312.747.6894 or email your request to utilitybill@cityofchicago.org.  Be sure to indicate your name, document #, property address, and phone number and how you would like the document returned on the cover letter so someone can call you back if there are any questions.