In November 2007, John Spatz Jr., Chicago’s water commissioner at the time, wrote a letter informing suburban governments that that they would soon have to pay more to tap the city’s water supply: Mayor Daley had decided to raise rates by 44 percent over the following three years.

Spatz assured Chicago’s suburban customers that the money would go toward shoring up the system that five million people in the region rely on for water. “These rate increases are needed to keep up with the increasing costs of operations and maintenance due to increases in labor, materials, energy and fuel costs, rising costs of construction to maintain and replace aging infrastructure, increasing costs of capital projects and costs associated with regulatory compliance.”