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

Dixmoor President Fitzgerald Kennedy Roberts says his administration is 1st to replace 100-year-old water pipes

ByJudy Hsu and Blanca Rios WLS logo
Thursday, April 6, 2023
Water relief on the way for Dixmoor residents plagued by shutoffs, crumbling infrastructure
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Fed up with water main breaks and shutoffs, the residents of south suburban Dixmoor are hopeful new funding will grant them good flowing water.

DIXMOOR, Ill. (WLS) -- Access to clean safe water is a human right. But in a suburb just 30 minutes south of Chicago, aging water pipes are slowly deteriorating underground, leading to periodic breaks and water shutoffs.

Tatiana Gomez is one of 38,000 people living in Dixmoor. The village is less than 20 miles from one of the largest fresh water lakes in the world.

Still, every morning, residents like Gomez wonder if water will flow from the tap.

"It's frustrating especially when you have kids, because you don't have enough water for your kids when they need it," said Gomez.

Dixmoor gets its water from Lake Michigan but it takes many twists and turns through corroding underground pipes before finally getting to people's homes.

In just the last couple of years, Dixmoor has had three major water main breaks. A watermain break in October of 2021 was enough to leave the entire village without running water for two weeks.

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"There was no water, we couldn't shower," recalled Gomez.

Even when there is running water, some residents have little to no pressure.

"Sometimes it's just that," Gomez shows a trickle. "And sometimes it's just nothing."

The problem lies within the town's 100-year-old water infrastructure - the pipes no longer strong enough to do their job.

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"When they (the pipes) come up and the air hits them they actually fall apart, due to them being so old," said Dixmoor President Fitzgerald Kennedy Roberts. "It just crumbles."

President Roberts was elected in May of 2021. He says no work has ever been done to get the pipes replaced.

"So having no infrastructure work being getting done in those 100 years, really I'm probably one of the first administrations that's tackling these water main breaks and these problems," said Roberts. "All we're doing right now is doing what you call patch fix, until we get the funding in to actually replace sections of pipe."

But relief is on the way. Work is expected to begin next month to replace a two mile water line that will run under Interstate 57. The $2 million project is being funded by the U.S Army Corps of Engineers and Cook County.

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"That's just going to take care of that one section over there - part of that one section," "We need a lot more money to finish the infrastructure in Dixmoor. That's the first step and my thing is a first step is better than no step at all."

Once that project is complete President Roberts said residents in that area should see improved water pressure and fewer breaks. But Dixmoor is hoping for millions more in federal, state and country funding to eventually replace the village's entire water infrastructure.

In the meantime, President Roberts says he's in the same boat as his residents. When they have no water, he has not water.

"Throughout this whole crisis, I could have left town but like me and my wife say, that's not the way we were raised and that's not what we do," Roberts said. "If the ship goes down we go with it, or either fight the ship from going down, and that's what we did.'