Southland mayors meet with state, federal leaders to address chronic water infrastructure problems

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Wednesday, December 14, 2022
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker and IDOT announced a $94 million road reconstruction project in Harvey, Dixmoor and Riverdale.

ROBBINS, Ill. (WLS) -- Elected officials in the south suburbs are trying to find solutions to a longtime water infrastructure problem.

Water main breaks and other outages have meant unreliable water service in many communities.

So far, the mayors in the hardest hit communities said they are satisfied after hearing from federal and state leaders who said help -- in terms of funding -- is available.

RELATED: Illinois investing $94M in infrastructure project in Harvey, Dixmoor, Riverdale

The mayor of Robbins said the next step will be including the governor.

Mayors across the Southland said they've been dealing with aging infrastructure in their communities, some for a century.

"We're all in the same boat, our infrastructure is ancient," Blue Island Mayor Fred Bilotto said.

"We need to have regional cooperation," Harvey Mayor Christopher Clark added.

Mayor Bryant, along with other Southland mayors, took part in a round table meeting with the EPA and IEPA to address chronic water infrastructure problems facing these communities.

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

It was a meeting that brought a sigh of relief to state and local leaders.

"I think this was a very fruitful meeting," said Congressman Bobby Rush, D-Chicago.

Congressman Rush has been trying to meet with federal and state agencies for more than year to address the on-going issues of providing affordable and clean water to people in the area.

"These mayors need access, they need to make sure that money comes to their villages," Congressman Rush said.

The mayors called this issue a crisis for residents.

"The biggest issue here is that this is something that's silent -- you don't see it. People drive over their streets. They don't know what's underneath until you don't have water. And water is supposed to be a right that everybody has," Mayor Bilotto said.

RELATED: Village of Dixmoor receives $2M to help solve water issues

Weeks ago, village leaders said nearly 100 Robbins home had water supply issues after a main break, which was just one of many the village has had this year.

"The Village of Robbins was impacted on Thanksgiving, with a quarter of the town being without water on a holiday Christmas is right around the corner. We don't know if that will happen again," Mayor Bryant said.

"I myself have run into a 12-time water main break," Posen Mayor Frank Podbielniak said.

The coalition of Southland mayors' next step is to reach out to Gov. JB Pritzker's office to make sure these leaders can take advantage of all resources available.

"We'll take another look from a regional approach to make sure we changed some laws or change some procedures or change policies to make sure that all the people get what they deserve.," Mayor Bryant said.