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Rock Island Public Works Employees Oppose Sale of Water/Sewer

City of Rock Island
Rock Island City Hall (file)

Union workers in Rock Island will picket today to protest the possible privatization of city water and sewer services.

Members of the Local 988 of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, will hold an informational picket outside Rock Island City Hall at 5 pm.

More than a year ago, the city council heard a presentation by Illinois American Water, a subsidiary of American Water Works. It's a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange and also owns Iowa American which serves Davenport, Bettendorf, LeClaire, and Clinton.

Rock Island public works employees who belong to the union say they will "sound the alarm about the privatization scheme." AFSCME says American Water profits from buying public water systems, making them less transparent and accountable to residents.

But a spokeswoman from Iowa American Water says the company is required to issue annual reports showing compliance with all government regulations pertaining to water quality. And all rate increases must go through an Iowa Utilities Board approval process that includes public comment and state oversight.

During tonight's study session, Rock Island aldermen are scheduled to hear from Illinois American again following the completion of a water rate study.

 Screenshot of proposed utility rate increases for storm water
City of Rock Island website
Screenshot of proposed utility rate increases for storm water

The agenda for the regular Rock Island City Council meeting includes three rate increases for water and sewer services.

  • The proposed water charge is a 5.5% rate hike each year through 2025 or an average of $23.00/year per household.
  • The proposed wastewater charge is a 4.5% rate increase, also each year through 2025, an average of $24.00/year per household.
  • And the third proposed rate hike would increase stormwater fees an average of $4.08/year per household.
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