Officials break ground for new Dixmoor water line after suburb plagued by years of issues

Congress, Cook County, US Army Corps of Engineers funding $2M project

ByMichelle Gallardo and Stephanie Wade WLS logo
Monday, June 12, 2023
Officials break ground for new Dixmoor water line
The groundbreaking for a new Dixmoor, Illinois water line on 143rd Street took place Monday. Cook County is helping to fund the project.

DIXMOOR, Ill. (WLS) -- South suburban Dixmoor held a groundbreaking Monday morning for a new water line after years of water main breaks, boil orders and shutoffs.

Several elected officials were at 2021 W. 143rd St. about 9 a.m. to mark the beginning of the much-needed water main infrastructure project in Dixmoor.

The south suburb of 3,600 people has been plagued by continuous water main breaks and shutoffs due to the crumbling 100-year-old infrastructure, the Dixmoor president has said.

The aging water pipes are slowly deteriorating underground and no longer strong enough to do their job.

"We put Band-Aids on cuts but that's not going to correct the problem. You got to stop the leaks," said Dixmoor Economic Development Director John Thompson.

SEE MORE: Water relief on the way for Dixmoor residents plagued by shutoffs, crumbling infrastructure

But relief is on the way.

The announcement gathered elected officials from both Cook County and Congress, where most of the funding for this project is coming from.

"This is a new day in Dixmoor. Not just groundbreaking for water, but it's groundbreaking in that the residents to not have to fear turning on their faucets to have clean running water," said U.S. Rep. Jonathan Jackson.

The $2.2 million project is also funded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and will replace a 2-mile water line that will run under Interstate 57.

Officials have said the project aims to reduce water loss, enhance water pressure and bolster firefighting capabilities throughout the community.

Dixmoor Mayor Fitzgerald Roberts said he can now breathe a sigh of relief.

"Something that's been long overdue for many, many years," Roberts said. "It's been very personal because it hurts to know that individuals can't get water when they need it."

Still, to replace the entire system, officials estimate they will need some $50 million. That's a lot more than the $2.2 million secured for this one project.

"We have many other projects on the way now. There is the lead pipe replacement and meters that are on the way," Roberts said.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle was among those who attended the groundbreaking Monday morning.

"And we know firsthand that once infrastructure falters, other quality of life concerns are at risk," she said.

Roberts said there have been about 15 to 20 breaks in the last few years.

"Four of them were very serious. The people here with the water going off and on, they've been going through an awful lot," he said.

One major water main break left the entire village without running water for two weeks, at one point.

"It's hard giving a kid a wash with baby wipes," said resident Jamie Gushie.

"I've got an 83-year-old mother. We have to flush pots and wash dishes. We're just doing the best we can," said another resident, Carla Moon.

Officials said the project will be finished next March, but expect water to be flowing in Dixmoor by the end of this year.

"Reliable water access is the lifeblood of a community. When a water system breaks, everything shuts down. Businesses, schools and public services can't conduct critical operations and residents can't go on with their daily lives," said U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly.