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No water for more than a week; condo owners blame broken pipe on city

Massive sinkhole leaves condo residents without water
Massive sinkhole leaves condo residents without water 02:57

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Only on 2; fireworks of a different kind in Belmont Cragin this 4th of July, as condo owners are outraged by a giant leaking pit outside their building.

Fresh water is spilling into the street instead of their kitchens and tubs. Residents have been filling buckets just to go to the bathroom. One resident poured his own urine directly down the sewer on Tuesday because he can't use the toilet.

That's how disturbing this situation is, and we're told the water-filled sinkhole has been gushing for more than two weeks.

Condo owner Elanta Slowek abandoned ship when water pooled outside her Belmont Cragin building two weeks ago.

"The minute that water did not go out of my drain, I couldn't do it," she said. "I've been between places, which sucks, because you pay a whole mortgage, you own a whole property, and you can't live there? It's ridiculous."

Other homeowners, like Norma Vendrell are trying to tough it out.

"One of my neighbors is getting water from work to shower. Otherwise we're pretty much stuck," Vendrell said.

Condo residents without water after massive sinkhole 02:15

Frustrated with her faucet, Vendrell has been filling a pail with fresh water from her neighbor's hose to keep her dogs hydrated, and buying lots of bottled water.

The problem with her plumbing came from a sinkhole outside her building.

"I noticed in the morning, around 6 o'clock in the morning, there was a puddle," she said.

The puddle turned into a spring, streaming onto Schubert Avenue, and not into these Belmont Cragin condos.

"Can you imagine people with kids? People with elderly? People like me? I'm 65, and now I'm begging for a piece of water," said Wilson Tigreros.

Residents have been dunking buckets into the water-filled pit so they have water to flush their toilets; showering or washing dishes with the murky mess is obviously not a good idea.

"It's frustrating. It's beyond frustrating, because I have a daughter that she can't even stay here, because this is no living condition for her or anybody," Vendrell said.

Videos taken by condo owners show this isn't a daylong issue, but a weeks-old situation.

Vendrell said the water started gushing from that 4-foot-deep sinkhole on June 18.

Records from the city's 3-1-1 system show it was back in May that city crews first responded to a "sewer lining repair" request. They noted a defective part on June 1.

By mid-June, the Department of Water Management was back on a "check for leak" complaint.

That's when the problem deepened, and water pressure for the building fell to zero. Residents have been without water for at least a week.

Property managers sent CBS 2 photos of a busted pipe they say the city damaged with an excavator.

"They caused the hole. They broke the pipe. They broke the pipe. I think the least they could do is fix it," Vendrell said.

Property management said the repair costs might fall back on the condo owners, and the assessments they pay might not cover everything. Those same condo owners are worried about more than just the financials.

"That sidewalk is different, you see? The building is going down," Tigreros said. "It's caving in."

Another real concern here: safety, especially with kids around the sinkhole.

"We have a daycare who brings their children on little trips to go to the park through here. What if one of these kids fall into this hole?" Vendrell said.

A spokesperson for the Department of Water Management did not address residents' concerns about the safety of the hole, and did not say when the building would get water back, or why water is flowing into the street, only saying that repairs are up to the building.

"Last Monday building management was notified that this repair is their responsibility and that they have 10 days to make the repair," a city spokesperson said.

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