Boil Order Lifted in Dixmoor After Dealing with Water Crisis Since Mid-October

A boil order issued for suburban Dixmoor was lifted Wednesday, effective immediately, after residents have been dealing with a water crisis since the middle of October.

Dixmoor President Fitzgerald Roberts said the village disconnected the temporary water feed coming from Blue Island on Monday, but needed two days to test the water quality.

The water pressure coming from Harvey is "adequate," Roberts said, but is not at the levels prior to Oct. 16, which was in a range of about 35-36 pounds of pressure per square inch.

“Addressing the water issues in Dixmoor remains a top priority for me and the Trustees,” Roberts said. “Now that the worst of this crisis is behind us, we are focused on long-term solutions.”

Dixmoor residents could resume taking showers Oct. 25, though a boil order will remain in effect as the city works to repair broken pipes that have caused major water pressure issues for several days, officials announced.

Village officials said residents and business owners can resume "some normal use of water" as pressure returns across the area.

"The Village is back feeding water from Blue Island in their reservoir and there is also some increased water pressure coming from Harvey," a release said. "The reservoir is now filling up."

Business are able to reopen, though schools will likely continue remote learning on Monday to start the week, the release added.

Dixmoor President Fitzgerald Roberts said that the village would remain under a boil order until the pipe issue is resolved.

"We still have not received enough pressure that we need to run the system," Roberts said in a press conference. "Right now we have 17 pounds of pressure. We will need to get up to 35 pounds of pressure."

The community has been dealing with water pressure issues for nearly a week, with water coming through pipes in a trickle or not coming through at all. While water pressure is supposed to be around 35-to-36 pounds per square inch (PSI), the community has routinely seen PSI readings in the single digits, including dramatic reductions on Tuesday.

The problems have forced businesses to close, schools to turn remote and village buildings to close their doors.

Here's what happened and when:

The pressure issues started Oct. 16 when officials said water pressure dropped to less than half of its normal levels, “effectively cutting off” water from the village's roughly 3,500 residents. But the area had been dealing with water problems for even longer.

The pressure problems caused the village board to declare a state of emergency over water supply issues.

Several broken pipes were observed in both Harvey, which is where Dixmoor’s water comes from, and in the village itself, and while those pipes were repaired, water pressure still has not been restored, despite officials’ confidence that it would be resolved.

A boil order was put into effect after the pipe breaks, according to officials, who said they were also waiting for the community’s reservoir to fill up. After that, the officials hoped to have turbines resume operation, ideally leading to a restoration of water pressure and service.

But that did not happen and on Oct. 19, a new issue arose.

According to the update from village officials, water was being pumped from the city of Harvey at 35 pounds of pressure per square inch (PSI), the ideal amount to allow for uninterrupted water service and adequate pressure.

When that water reached Dixmoor however, pressure dropped to 11.2 PSI.

The reason behind the discrepancy was an issue with the village's turbines.

While one of the turbines was functional, it could not be used at full capacity while the water pressure from the feeder source remains low. Officials worked to resolve the issue, but a second turbine at the facility will likely need to be replaced in order for repair work to be successful.

As a result, a boil order remained in effect for village residents, and bottled water was made available at Village Hall for residents.

By Oct. 20, however, the village's president issued a plea for help.

“We need help,” Village President Fitzgerald Roberts said. “We need someone who can help us find this problem.”

Roberts said he is seeking help from Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker as well.

“I would like help from the governor, from the federal level, all levels to get involved with this issue, where we can take care of this infrastructure out here where this problem will not occur again,” Roberts said.

Village officials and various charities, including the Salvation Army, have been handing out bottled water to residents.

In the community, some businesses have remained closed since the water pressure issues began, and students at the community’s schools are remote-learning as their classrooms remained closed.

“It’s like living in a third-world country,” resident John Lannan said.

Lannan said water at his home grew stronger at one point, before retreating.

“Try not being able to take a shower. Try not being able to do laundry,” he said. “Try not being able to do dishes for five days, and then you’ll understand our frustration.”

By Oct. 21, Roberts said there were small signs of progress, but not enough.

Some areas reported having water again, but for most of the town, water pressure troubles continued. A boil order remained in effect. 

Water main breaks have led to pressure problems for the past few days for Dixmoor residents, who have seen only a trickle from their faucets. NBC 5's Chris Coffey reports.

Cook County opened several free shower facilities in Oak Forest, South Holland and Willow Springs at the end of October. The facilities were open on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on weekends from 7:30 to a.m. and again from 4 p.m. to sunset.

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