In life, it’s a good thing to know what exactly you’re paying for – water costs included.

Too often, our water bills can leave us in a state of confusion and blindly handing over our credit cards. With prices steadily increasing year on year in the Chicago area, it’s worth understanding where your money’s going.

Water Charges Simplified

The terminology on your water bill can get a little confusing. To put it simply, you’ll usually be paying for the following:

  • Water treatment – so the water that you drink is safe for consumption
  • Storage and supply of water
  • Water waste removal 
  • Service charge – billing, customer service, meter readings.

Metered Vs. Non-Metered Accounts

The total cost of your water bill is largely dependent on the type of account that you have. Metered or non-metered.


With a metered account, you are billed based on the amount of water you use over a period of time – usually monthly. This amount is measured by the water meter in your property. The total water charges will be calculated as the product of the recorded water usage and the water rate in your area.  


As the name suggests, properties with non-metered accounts do not have a water meter. So instead of paying for the amount of water you have used, you are charged a flat rate based on the type, size, and plumbing facilities of your property. These rates are decided by The Municipal Code of Chicago, and bills are sent out every six months. 

How To Pay

The simplest and most convenient way to pay your water bill is online through the City Of Chicago’s Utility Web Portal. However, if you’re still a little old school, there are other more traditional payment methods available. You can pay by mail, EZ pay stations, phone.

A great solution for those struggling with utility costs is the availability of utility payment plans. 

These plans allow payments to be made over a period of 36 months. They can be paid either online or in-person and can be set up at any Department of Finance Payment Processing Center. 

What To Do When Relocating

When buying or selling a property, it’s important not to overlook the smaller details such as changing the name on your water bill account – the last thing you want is to be charged for someone else’s impossibly long showers!

In the City of Chicago, those selling a property are required to obtain a Full Payment Certificate from the Department of Finance. This certificate is then used to transfer ownership from the seller to the buyer, and the new bills are charged accordingly.

Love Chicago? Grab My Little Orange Book! In it, I let you in on some of my all-time favorite city spots, tips & tricks for creating a home that you adore, and so much more!