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Water Main Break "Underscores Urgency," Mayor Says

Nearly 100-year-old main in the Back-of-the-Yards neighborhood failed early Saturday, likely due to old age

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Mayor: Water Main Break 'Underscores Urgency'

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When a 91-year-old water main in Chicago's Back-of-the-Yards neighborhood burst early Saturday, streets were closed, basements were flooded and a mayor felt emboldened.

"This underscores the urgency of renewing our infrastructure.  The cost of waiting is being paid today by closed businesses and flooded neighbors," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement.

Just a day earlier, he visited with crews in the North Lawndale neighborhood in an effort to sell his pitch to increase water and sewer fees. Not only would the hike, included in this week's budget proposal, fix some of the city's water problems, but it would also act as a form of homegrown stimulus, creating 18,000 jobs over the next 10 years.

Saturday's water main break happened at about 8:30 a.m., in the 1300 block of West 47th Street. It caused the street to "buckle," and sent a "substantial" amount of water running through alleyways, according to City Dept. of Water spokesman Tom LaPorte.

No one’s water service was affected, but LaPorte said some residents may have a foot or two of water in their basements.

The main the ruptured was a "very big" 24-inch water main dating back to the early 1920s. LaPorte said age was likely a factor.

"It’s met its time," he said.

If the City Council approves the mayor's budget, the added water and sewer fees would generate about $147 million in revenue, the administration said.

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