Debate Over Ownership of Peoria's Water Utility Makes a Splash

Mar 31, 2017

Every five years the City of Peoria has the option to purchase its water company. The issue divides people into separate schools of thought on the issue -- and this year is no exception.

Credit DO'Neil / Wikimedia Commons

The Heart of Peoria Sierra Club and Peoria Families Against Toxic Waste hosted a presentation called Public Water for All. Activist Tracy Fox says the city owes it to taxpayers to do its due diligence on the purchasing of the water company.

“From a financial standpoint, we would not be paying anything to corporate profits. We have that, you know, whole amount of money," Fox said. "The other thing is we would be able to borrow money to do big infrastructure projects at a much much lower rate.”   

Fox says that may not hold true if the city cannot remain solvent and the state’s financial ineptitude persists. She says that’s why it should be studied closely.

Karen Cotton is with Illinois American Water. She says it costs about $1-million to do the necessary study before purchasing a water works, and an estimated $300-million to purchase it. Cotton says Peoria has more cost effective ways to spend taxpayer dollars. She says Illinois American Water will continue to reinvest in the system as well as the community and continue providing a quality water supply.   

Illinois American Water didn’t receive a single violation last year, compared to the nearly 200 water quality violations other water systems in Illinois received. Illinois American Water is also regulated by the ICC, protection she says customers would lose if the water company was publicly owned.