The pastor of the Pilsen church says he is showered with a debt on the water bill due to the lack of a water meter; Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez wants federal dollars to remedy such situations
CHICAGO (CBS) – The pastor of a church in Pilsen says he feels like he’s being hosed down – with an $ 11,000 water bill.
And he is not alone.
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CBS 2 investigators discovered a pattern of failed water bills. Most stem from a lack of water meters and poor billing systems.
But remember, you can’t get a meter without replacing the lead service line that feeds your building. The question now is who is going to pay for it?
CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas discussed a possible solution on Thursday.
Reverend Cesar Sifuentes hosts a twice-weekly soup kitchen and annual winter coat drive at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church, 2108 W. 21st St.
“The church and the soup kitchen never stop,” Sifuentes said.
But Pastor Sifuentes said those services are now under threat due to the church’s debt on the water bill. This debt amounts to $ 11,569.56 – which the church does not have.
The church is one of 180,000 buildings in Chicago without a water meter. The city bases the bills not on water use, but on property size and plumbing fixtures – estimates.
“The building is big – therefore they think we use a lot of water,” Sifuentes said.
The pastor said this has led to inaccurate and exorbitant fees that the church cannot afford.
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“Please help us with the water meter. We need the meter as soon as possible, ”said Sifuentes. “We cannot continue to serve the community. “
This is an issue that we’ve exposed repeatedly in our Getting Hosed series with CBS 2 investigator Brad Edwards.
Across the city, people have been bewildered by rising bills despite little or no water use.
Ald. Byron Sigcho Lopez (25th) this week introduced an order to use federal dollars to install more water meters. He wants the money to come from either the American Rescue Act or the federal infrastructure bill passed this week.
“We believe that investing this estimated billion dollars will go a long way in ensuring that we have water meters in places like St. Matthew and other places, but also in making sure that we absorb the debt of thousands of people. residents who might be in this situation. situation, ”Ald said. Sigcho-Lopez.
One challenge is that in order to install a new water meter, the city must first ensure that the lead pipes are replaced. The city was planning to replace 600 lead service lines this year, but in October we found out that they had replaced just six.
“Right now we have federal funding coming into the city of Chicago, and I don’t know what the excuse is for not making it a priority,” Ald said. Sigcho-Lopez.
Since St. Matthew is a church, it should benefit from a water bill exemption. But according to city rules, for an exemption you need a water meter.
“In the city, please listen to us,” said Pastor Sifuentes. “Help us, because we are still in the community. “
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Meanwhile, remember those six main service lines the city replaced? Since October, they have replaced a few others – a grand total of 17 of the 600 promised.