Aqua Illinois: "No Rate Hike Anytime Soon" for Candlewick Lake

- POPLAR GROVE (WTVO) -- The tenuous relationship between Candlewick Lake and Aqua Illinois hit a peak when the privatized water company dumped raw sewage into the lake. And while the drama is on the scenic lakefront, the real concern for residents is when the bill comes.

"They’re a tough business to deal with to begin with because they're the most expensive water in the world," says decade-long resident George Chorvat.

"The goal is to make sure that a company doesn't overly profit from being in that position," says Senator Dave Syverson (R-35th District)

Syverson knows the passion behind the issue after he attended a meeting at Candlewick Lake nearly two years ago.

"They came and the presented facts and figures and numbers," Syverson said of that day in January 2012 "It was one of the more impressive hearings that I’ve been to."

But consumer advocates say that candlewick lakes battle over high water rates is a lost cause.

"When you go up against utilities that have very deep pockets and are armed with tens of hundreds of lobbyists influencing legislation, it's difficult for the consumer or municipality to fight," says Valeri DeCastris, who spent 17 years on the Citizens Utility Board and works today as a consumer advocate.

Residents in Candlewick Lake fought hard against smaller steady rate hikes, writing a letter to Governor Pat Quinn concerned about the legislation, but it passed and was signed in August. Despite the battle against rate hikes, the company says there won't be one this year.

"There's always the opportunity for rate hikes, depending on the investment needed, and the amount that overall expenses increase over time," said Aqua Illinois Vice President Craig Blanchette. "But at this time I’m not anticipating a rate hike anytime in the near future for Candlewick Lake."

The company stands by its record, but knows it needs a new solution for overflow.

"It’s not acceptable," Blanchette said, confirming the sewage dumping incidents in April and June. "We cannot discharge in that manner and we're going to continue to work with the Boone County Health Department to ensure that in the future they're emprise with what's happening in our system."

"Looking at some of the pictures of the concerns about dumping is something that should be being investigated," Syverson said.

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