Chicago Tells Residents in North Side Neighborhood ‘Don't Drink The Water'

Residents in the 4700 block of West Patterson Avenue in the Old Irving Park neighborhood told NBC 5 they were having water troubles for months

The city of Chicago told residents in a North Side neighborhood Thursday to not drink rusty, discolored water after a nearby car wash’s lack of backflow devices possibly lead to a contaminated waterline.

The city Thursday began handing out bottled water to homes in the 4600 and 4700 blocks of West Patterson Avenue in the city's Old Irving Park neighborhood and took water samples for analysis.

“As soon as we have the results indicating that the water is safe to drink, the do not drink the water order will be lifted,” the city said in a statement.

Residents in the area told NBC 5 they were having water troubles for months. 

Mike and Amy Streff have been concerned about their 3-year-old's health after they say their water began sputtering and coming out discolored.

“The bathtub, I was running the stub and it was coming out brown,” Mike told NBC 5. “Same thing with the laundry downstairs.”

Across the street from the Streffs, Freda Johnson worries her pipes rattle so hard they’ll soon crack.

“It seems like an explosion,” she said. “Everybody feels like their stuff is just going to go up into space or explode.”

Residents like Johnson and the Streffs say they’ve been trying to get the city to fix the problems for months—with no luck.

A day after NBC 5 reached out to the Department of Water Management, the city sent crews to the neighborhood and says it resolved the issue—but found the car wash problem.

Flyers distributed to residents Thursday warned them to wash dishes, brush their teeth or even consume the water coming from their taps.

“My grandkids … I babysit them and I’ve been giving them lemonade, macaroni and cheese,” said resident Luz Ojega. “Everything I do with the water.”

The car wash has been shut down and the “do not drink” order will remain in effect until tests are completed, which could take up to 48 hours or longer, the city said.

“It makes me worried,” Ojega said. “We’ve been calling and they know we have a problem—I don’t know why it took them so long.”

Contact Us