Dixmoor water systems suffers multiple breaks, at least 1,000 residents without clean supply

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Large portions of Dixmoor were again without water Tuesday, including some 1,000 residents of a mobile home park, as multiple water main breaks cascaded through an already-taxed water supply system, a village spokesman said.

At least six water main breaks were discovered in the village Tuesday, following a series of breaks that began over the weekend and prompted the closure of two village schools, said Travis Akin, a spokesman for the village.

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Residents of the Modern Estates mobile home park, at Western Avenue and 140th Street, were completely without water, and residents in other parts of the village were also either lacking sufficient water pressure or under a boil order, Akin said.

He said that the park has more than 1,000 residents.

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There was no firm timeline on when the latest breaks might be repaired, he said.

“Things are a big mess, and they are trying to get this stuff repaired,” he said.

Tuesday started with two breaks in the morning, then progressed, which has made the timeline for getting the system is order a moving target, Akin said.

“We don’t know how long it’s going to take to get this resolved,” he said.

Dixmoor Mayor Fitzgerald Roberts speaks at a news conference April 15, about a $2 million water infrastructure project in his village. (Mike Nolan / Daily Southtown)

West Harvey-Dixmoor School District 147 had to cancel classes Monday and Tuesday at Martin Luther King Elementary and Rosa Parks Middle School because of water supply disruptions. The district’s Lincoln Elementary School was not affected and remained open.

It was not clear whether schools would be open Wednesday, and district officials did not respond immediately to requests for comment Tuesday afternoon.

As repairs are being made to individual breaks, water service to different portions of the village will need to be shut off, Akin said.

It’s likely that following a boil order, the water system’s cleanliness will need to be tested before Dixmoor officials can give the all-clear signal.

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The village has been beset by water supply problems, which officials attribute to old infrastructure that is in need of a major overhaul.

Toward the end of July, all 3,500 residents of Dixmoor were without water after two major water main breaks forced the shutdown of the villagewide system that distributes Lake Michigan water to homes and businesses.

Last October, Dixmoor homes and businesses were without clean drinking water following a water line break, and the issue wasn’t resolved until the beginning of November.

In April, village and other officials announced a $2 million project, funded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which will result in a new water line that will replace an aging line and help improve water flow to homes. The corps will oversee the project, with construction getting started by spring of next year.

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At a news conference that month announcing the project, retiring Cook County Commissioner Deborah Sims, whose 5th District includes Dixmoor, said while the breakdown in October in the village’s water system caused hardship for the village’s 3,500 residents, it had a silver lining.

“I’m glad it happened,” Sims said at the news conference. “It brought attention to the failing infrastructure of the south suburbs.”

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Dixmoor isn’t alone among south suburban communities with aging infrastructure, such as leaking water lines that can end up inflating homeowners’ water bills.

The costs of major overhauls on water and sewer systems often outstrips the resources in the towns, many of which are low-income. Dixmoor is a predominantly Black and Latino community, with 20% of its residents living below the poverty line, according to 2010 census data.

Echoing Sims’ comments about infrastructure needs, state Rep. Will Davis, D-Homewood, said at the April news conference that greater funding sources are needed to remedy the infrastructure problems.

With the most recent water crisis, Dixmoor Mayor Fitzgerald Roberts said the village is looking to other area elected officials for help with the village’s problems.

mnolan@tribpub.com

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August 30, 2022 at 06:54PM

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