City of Chicago Water Department Update
Saturday, November 11, 2023
Section: Industry Updates

We have heard from many of you about the challenges that you have experienced in obtaining full payment certificates (FPC) from the City of Chicago Water Department. We contacted Commissioner Cheng, the Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Water Management. She put us in touch with the person who is working on rectifying some of the challenges our members have been experiencing with the department.

They acknowledged the challenges that you have been reporting.  Multiple people in the department have been out on unanticipated leave for an extended period of time, which has impacted service.  Additionally, they encountered problems with the routing of the emails that are sent to the water department since the City switched email systems in February. They were not initially aware that the emails were not being properly routed.    

The City of Chicago is committed to improving turnaround times and responsiveness. Here is what they are working on:

  • A process and systems analyst was added to their team to improve the processing of full payment certificates.
  • They are in the process of training 2 people to work on processing requests. They expect that we will see a noticeable decrease in the time to process requests in the next several weeks.
  • Until very recently, they had no way to run a report based on the amount of time a certificate has been pending, which has contributed to the lengthy delays in getting full payment certificates. They can now see how long a request has been open and they are working through the backlog. They are regularly reviewing an aging report of requests.
  • Our contact will reiterate to those that work in the water department that they can talk to the requestor of the certificate, even though the requestor is not the owner.
  • The water department can now run reports based on notes added to the system.  The best way to call attention to, or flag a pending FPC, is to add a note in the system. This will create a task that has to be resolved and they have indicated it will be more effective than sending a separate email.  Additionally, it will enable them to respond directly within the file.

We agreed to stay in touch and to discuss any consistent issues that arise and stressed that we are interested in working well together.  We also agreed to touch base again in about a month to check in on how the changes they have implemented are working.