As President Joe Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law Monday, Rep. Bobby Rush urged federal officials to examine aging water supply and delivery systems in the wake of a lengthy water pressure crisis in suburban Dixmoor, saying that such a study will be necessary to properly allocate federal funds dedicated to improving that infrastructure.
According to a press release from Rush’s office, the state of Illinois is set to receive $1.7 billion to update water infrastructure thanks to the federal legislation, and he says that situations like the one in Dixmoor make it imperative for the federal government to step in and lend assistance.
Rush sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency Monday, calling for the regulatory body to conduct a study of the water supply and delivery systems for several south Chicago suburbs, including Dixmoor.
“For far too long, these communities have struggled to secure affordable and dependable supplies of clean water for their residents,” Rush said. “My constituents in the south suburbs of Chicago need and deserve a clean supply of fresh water, but this cannot be guaranteed as we do not know the state of the water supply and distribution systems throughout the region.”
Rush’s letter mentioned several instances where water supplies were threatened and impacted, including toxic chemical contamination in suburban Crestwood in 2009 and in Sauk Village in the years following.
Earlier this year, the village of Dixmoor began experiencing severe issues with its water pressure after a water main break. After several weeks of issues and setbacks, the community was finally able to rescind a boil order, but the challenges underscored the size of the problem facing those responsible for updating and maintaining the infrastructure in the region.
“This is simply an unacceptable and disgraceful state of affairs,” Rush said. “The financial straits that many of these south suburban municipalities find themselves in due to structural disadvantages and the COVID-19 pandemic mean that they are simply not in a fiscal place to take on their water issues alone.”
In all, the infrastructure bill provides $55 billion in funding to update water infrastructure across the United States, according to Rush’s office.