South suburban mayors, U.S. officials discuss water infrastructure problems

Village of Robbins Mayor Darren Bryant said impacted suburbs are looking for “immediate help” as some homes are still experiencing lingering effects from the latest water main issues.

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South suburban mayors met with federal officials Tuesday to discuss solutions to longtime water infrastructure problems in the region, but they are calling for immediate help from Springfield.

Rep. Bobby Rush and Village of Robbins Mayor Darren Bryant hosted the meeting, which included officials from the EPA, IEPA and the mayors of Alsip, Blue Island, Dixmoor and Harvey.

Bryant said he “felt real good” about the meeting, adding that getting everyone together in one room to discuss an issue is already a victory. “Contacts were exchanged, they gave us the platforms in which to have current loan applications and grant applications.”

But Bryant said the village and other impacted suburbs are looking for “immediate help” as some homes are still experiencing lingering effects from the latest water main issues.

“We need an emergency declaration on behalf of the governor to fight for these communities in the state of Illinois, not just Robbins,” Bryant said. “Towns all over the state are struggling with water infrastructure.”

Over Thanksgiving, around 100 homes were left without water in Robbins after a series of water main breaks. And in neighboring Dixmoor, five water main breaks this year have affected service and water quality. Rush has been seeking a meeting with state and federal officials to discuss the water problem for more than a year.

Bryant said it’s been frustrating for residents to have to deal with the issue, which he said has been going on for at least 40 years, without proper funding. “This is a state of emergency. The local level of government cannot solve this problem.”

Engineers estimate about $40 million is needed to fix the issues, he explained.

Bryant said that homes in the area — including his own — which experienced water main breaks on Thanksgiving — are dealing with lingering low water pressure issues.

“This is very important,” Bryant said. “We need help at every level to push the agenda.”

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