Dec 16, 2022 - News

Southland water woes continue

Photo of a man talking to reporters.

Rep. Bobby Rush in 2021. Photo: Christopher Dilts/Bloomberg via Getty Images

After a year of trying, Rep. Bobby Rush convened a roundtable with the EPA and South suburban mayors to discuss water main emergencies that have been plaguing communities.

Why it matters: Because of failing infrastructure, some residents are being deprived of access to clean water.

What they're saying: "We have citizens across the state of Illinois that wake up every day without knowing if they're going to have water," Robbins Mayor Darren Bryant said after the meeting.

  • "It is totally unacceptable," Rush said in a statement.

Context: The towns of Dixmoor and Robbins have seen several water main breaks recently, with other mayors saying they've had similar issues.

  • Some systems are over 100 years old.

By the numbers: Dixmoor Mayor Fitzgerald Roberts told CBS in September the repairs would cost about $39 million.

  • He said federal funding is needed, but he conceded there has been financial mismanagement in Dixmoor over the years.
  • The government needs recent financial reports to allocate resources, something Roberts says they just don't have.

Zoom out: With high-profile water issues in nearby Flint, Michigan, and in Jackson, Mississippi, there is a renewed push to modernize water management and infrastructure.

What's next: Gov. JB Pritzker pledged $94 million for infrastructure improvements in Southland, including water main replacements, this fall. But that project won't be finished until 2025.

  • The affected mayors plan to reach out to the governor to find resources to fix the problem now.

💭 Justin's thought bubble: I'm surprised local environmental activists haven't sprung into action over this water crisis, as we've seen in other parts of the country.

  • It gets coverage from area news outlets, but where's the outrage?

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