Hammond, Chicago Heights reach agreement in battle over water rates

2013-01-08T22:30:00Z 2013-01-08T23:30:04Z Hammond, Chicago Heights reach agreement in battle over water ratesMarisa Kwiatkowski marisa.kwiatkowski@nwi.com, (219) 662-5333 nwitimes.com

HAMMOND | City officials in Hammond and Chicago Heights have reached a settlement in principle in their legal tussle over water rates, federal court records show.

In a legal brief filed Monday in federal court, Hammond and Chicago Heights officials said they are reducing their settlement to writing. Once that agreement is written and executed, the municipalities plan to request the dismissal of the federal lawsuit, court records state.

The details of that agreement were not available late Tuesday.

Chicago Heights sued Hammond, its Board of Works and the Board of Trustees for the Hammond Water Works Department in October after the two municipalities failed to come to an agreement on the rate Chicago Heights would pay to buy its water from Hammond.

Hammond wanted the Illinois community to pay $2.20 per 1,000 gallons of water, up from the 57.5 cents per 1,000 gallons Chicago Heights has paid for the past 30 years. Chicago Heights, in turn, also provides some of the water it gets from Hammond to other Illinois communities.

Chicago Heights argued the new rate was unreasonable, while Hammond officials contended it was fair and still was less than the amount Chicago Heights charged its own water users.

Chicago Heights' old water contract with Hammond expired Nov. 12, but in a termination letter, Hammond officials gave the Illinois municipality until March to find a new provider before ending service.

In response, Chicago Heights filed its federal lawsuit and, separately, asked the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to intervene by establishing a new rate and issuing an emergency order requiring Hammond to continue water service. The IURC has not yet issued a ruling.

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