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Water Issues, Boil Order Persist In Dixmoor As Blame Game Erupts With Water Supplier City Of Harvey

DIXMOOR, Ill. (CBS) -- Water issues continued Tuesday in south suburban Dixmoor, where residents have been struggling with low pressure and have been under a boil order for 11 days now.

But the back and forth continues – with Harvey city officials speaking out Tuesday and calling the issue in Dixmoor unrelated to their water system. Harvey's system provides all of the water for the Village of Dixmoor.

As CBS 2's Tara Molina reported, donated water was still making the difference in Dixmoor late Tuesday. We watched a constant stream of residents show up at village hall for water on Tuesday.

Donated pallets' worth of water bottles are what so many continue to rely on right now – and we're told they could be for a while longer.

Water is actually flowing again in Dixmoor. But for some, we're told pressure is still an issue – and everyone is still under a boil order Tuesday.

"The water is trickling," said longtime Dixmoor resident Brian Wright.

Wright said it has felt like more than 11 days.

"Can't wash dishes. Can't cook. Can hardly use the washroom, shower," he said.

But everyone we met was thankful for the offering of bottled water.

"It's been great," Wright said.

"I need it to drink," added Simona Robinson.

Village President Fitzgerald Roberts chose to spend the day giving out that bottled water.

"My muscles are pretty tired right now," he said.

Roberts did not attend a news conference in Harvey on the water crisis. Harvey Mayor Christopher Clark did.

"We had two unrelated water main breaks," Clark said.

"You have individuals that do things to make it seem like everything is OK, but it's really not," Roberts said while not at the news conference. "From Dixmoor's point of view, we still have this issue we are dealing with."

He showed us a temporary fix Sunday – water rigged and rerouted from neighboring Blue Island. It helped with pressure in Dixmoor, with Cook County Emergency Management calling it, then, a fix in place until more is done – they say with a broken valve.

But despite what we've heard from the county and the village, Harvey officials and a water system company contracted by Harvey claimed at the news conference Tuesday that the water issues in Dixmoor aren't directly related to their water system. They instead blame a water main break within Dixmoor.

"Regarding the break in the Village of Dixmoor? That's up to the Village of Dixmoor to decide how they're going to pay for that," Mayor Clark said.

Clark said the City of Harvey warned the Village of Dixmoor about water problems some time ago.

"Earlier this year, we contacted the village of Dixmoor to inform them they had a higher water usage, there were some water issues, and we believed there were some leaks going on," he said.

Cutting through the blame game, Roberts told us all of the infrastructure is old, and whatever fix is put in place is going to be expensive – so he's already asking for state and federal help.

"I need all the help we can get in Dixmoor," Roberts said. "We can't afford this."

At the Harvey news conference, an official said federal funding is available.

"The American Rescue Plan does provide money for sewer and water municipalities across the country," Rick Bryant, an aide to U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Illinois), said at the news conference. "In this case, there's $450,000 for Dixmoor and nearly $3 million for Harvey."

Late Tuesday, there were still lots of moving parts when it comes to the Dixmoor water situation. There is no definite timeline on a real fix, with issues are still being investigated, according to the Village president.

Meanwhile, the blame game with Harvey continued. But we are told the Village of Dixmoor plans to keep bottled water available here for residents for at least the next week.

The Village of Dixmoor also announced Tuesday that it conducted an Emergency Water Improvements Planning Session to discuss the condition of the Harvey city supply line that feeds water to Dixmoor, and to come up with solutions.

"It is disheartening that the Village has now entered the second week of this ongoing crisis and a solution to Harvey's supply line issue has yet to be found," Roberts said in a news release late Tuesday. "We need a permanent solution to this problem."

The village reported it has learned that the City of Harvey now plans to install a hydrant on its supply line on Wood Street on Wednesday and to flow-test the line the following day. Meanwhile, with the emergency connection to the Blue Island water supply in place, the Village of Dixmoor can now draw water from both Harvey and Blue Island.

But until all issues are resolved, the boil order will remain in effect.

The Village of Dixmoor outlined the following emergency water improvements with which it plans to go ahead:

1) Short Term Improvements – To be implemented within 90 days
a) Cost assessment of improvements
b) Replacement of and repairs to existing pumps and pump station equipment
c) Improvements to the Harvey-Dixmoor master meter vault, including installation of electrical service and SCADA equipment
d) Elimination of redundant piping under I-57 and installation of approximately 2,300' of new water main to provide additional supply to the north side of the Village and minimize potential main breaks and water loss
e) Creation of a permanent of emergency interconnection with Blue Island

2) Investigations for Long Term Improvements:
a) Hydraulic study/assessment of existing distribution system
b) Study of options for alternate water connection
c) Assessment of existing ground storage reservoir
d) Mapping of Village's water distribution system using GIS mapping technology

3) Long Term Improvements
a) Construction of alternate water connection to Chicago or other agency (maintain Harvey as emergency interconnection)
b) Construction of new elevated tank to provide increased system pressure and storage capacity
c) Construction of second ground storage reservoir to provide additional storage capacity
d) Improvements to existing reservoir
e) Installation of additional water main as needed to provide increased and improved water distribution to north side of Village

Bottled water will remain available at Village Hall. Seniors who need bottled water delivered may call (708) 389-612///1.

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