Glenview Village Hall

Glenview officials hope to sell its North Maine Water Utility to a national investor-owned company. (Chicago Tribune, Alexandra Chachkevitch / November 25, 2013)

Glenview trustees have recently approved the village's intention to let a national investor-owned company take over its North Maine Water Utility.

Village officials hope to sell the water system for about $22 million to Aqua Illinois, which was the highest bidder to answer a request for proposals in December, according to village documents.

The utility, which Glenview has owned since 1997, distributes water services to about 44,000 residents who live mostly in an unincorporated area of Maine Township, outside of Glenview's incorporated boundaries, officials said.

The difficulty of maintaining the system outside of the village boundaries in addition to the water – which comes from the City of Chicago through the Village of Niles – becoming pricier in recent years have pushed officials to consider changing the water supply for the area, said Amy Ahner, the village's director of administrative services.

"The Chicago rates have aggressively increased over the past four years," causing rates passed to the customers to be raised proportionally, Ahner said.

Glenview residents get their water from neighboring Wilmette at a much lower rate, officials said.

The two villages recently approved extending their water service contract by 30 years. Ahner said at the moment the price of the wholesale water that comes from Chicago through Niles is $6 per 1,000 gallons while Wilmette's rate is $2.10 per 1,000 gallons.

If the deal with Aqua Illinois goes through, North Maine residents would start getting water from Wilmette after Glenview's water supply contract with Niles expires in 2020.

Officials expect that contract to contain water rates for the residents.

Until 2020, water and sanitary rates would be frozen for those residents, only increasing due to raises in the price of water itself.

"We're excited about this," said Craig Blanchette, Aqua Illinois' vice president of operations, to Glenview trustees on April 17. "We really believe in this partnership."

Aqua Illinois, a subsidiary of Aqua America, Inc., serves about 3 million people in eight states and is regulated by the Illinois Commerce Commission.

Trustees, some of whom wanted to sell the utility for years, said they are happy to see the deal with Aqua develop as it would help customers within the North Maine service area but also stop the village from operating the business.

"Government should be in the business of government, and business should be in the business of business," said Trustee Scott Britton at a recent trustees meeting.

Britton and others pointed out that the North Maine customers do not live within the Village of Glenview.

Because of this, village officials cannot use the money from Glenview taxpayers to subsidize spikes in costs for residents within the North Main boundaries.

"It's the fairest thing we can do in the long run," said Trustee Philip White of the potential sale.

Trustees are scheduled to consider the asset purchase and water supply agreement again at their May 6 meeting.

If everything goes smoothly, officials expect the sale to close in June 2015.

achachkevitch@tribune.com | Twitter: @chachkevitch