Bobby Rush, South Suburban Mayors Call for Investments to Fix Aging Water Infrastructure

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Rep. Bobby Rush and Robbins Mayor Darren Bryant participated in a roundtable meeting with officials from the Environmental Protection Agency, discussing water problems that have plagued the suburban village for decades.

Rush and Bryant were also joined by mayors from other south suburban communities, with many having dealt with water issues in recent months because of aging infrastructure.

A recent water main break in Robbins disabled water supply in the village and in surrounding communities, leaving nearly 100 homes without water on Thanksgiving.

“Robbins, along with other communities across the state, has been suffering water losses from water main breaks and poor infrastructure that we've been having to deal with for the last 40 years plus,” Bryant said.

The mayor is seeking a statewide emergency declaration by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, which could help potentially bring much-needed federal dollars into the area to help address the infrastructure issues.

“When you are waking up with citizens every day, without the ability to brush their teeth or wash their face or even flush their toilet, that’s an emergency situation,” he said.

Members of the community echoed similar concerns, including barber Larry Holmes. He runs The Chopp Shopp in Robbins, and knows all too well what dealing with the village’s water problems has entailed.

“Growing up out here, we always had water issues, low pressure,” he said. “A lot of busted mains, even the sewage problems with a wet rain and the water is just everywhere.”

Robbins isn’t the only community that has had to deal with significant water issues. Over the summer, suburban Dixmoor was left completely without water due to multiple main breaks.

Before that occurred, the village received money to fix part of the of their infrastructure, but that work has not yet begun in the community.

Bryant hopes that his village can get similar funding, saying that estimates indicate a cost of around $40 million to complete the needed work, making an emergency declaration all the mor important.  

“I think the governor is going to help,” he said. “I think the state and the federal (government) is going to help too.”

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