CHICAGO (CBS) — After going more than a week without water, condo owners at a building in Belmont Cragin finally got some action on Wednesday.
CBS 2’s Lauren Victory, raising questions about who is responsible for fixing the broken pipe and all that wasted water.
On Wednesday, the people without water said the city is promising relief by Friday.
Residents were happy to learn the broken pipe will be replaced by the city, but they’re frustrated they still won’t have water for a while.
After Norma Vendrell and her neighbors spent more than a week without a drop of water, Chicago Department of Water Management crews stopped by to investigate the problem.
“I was very shocked, but not surprised entirely. I figured that the news report will get somewhere with our situation,” Vendrell said.
CBS 2 showed residents and their ridiculous conditions; forced to dip buckets into a water-filled pit outside their building to get water to flush their toilets.
Condo owners were forced to go through bottled water like water, and even fill pails with a neighbor’s hose to wash dishes and hydrate their pets.
“We have no water. I mean, why wouldn’t we be a priority? I mean, we have 14 units, three retail stores,” Vendrell said.
How did they get here? Property management said a city excavator apparently pierced a pipe after responding to a repair request.
She said quotes to fix the leaking pipe came back between $10,000 and $15,000.
However it busted, a Chicago Water Management spokesperson said the break is the building’s responsibility, because it is on private property.
The hole outside the building sat, getting deeper and deeper for more than two weeks as water gushed into the street, wasted as the pipe sat unfixed; property management and city officials pointing fingers at each other.
“They still claim that it is the building’s responsibility,” Vendrell said.
But Water Management is now proposing a solution that the city will pay for. It’s called the Breaks and Leaks Replacement Program, which swaps out lead pipes found on private property with copper ones. Work can’t begin right away, but could start this week.
Water Management spokeswoman Megan Vidis provided the following statement:
“Per Municipal Code, this repair is the homeowner’s responsibility. They were notified that this was the case and that they had to make the repair to restore water to the property.
As the service to this property is lead, DWM has encouraged the management association to participate in the City’s Breaks and Leaks Program where both the public and private side of the service line will be replaced for free. However, repairing the existing line to restore service is still the responsibility of the homeowners.”
Still, Vendrell is relieved the city is finally promising a fix.
“At least they’re trying to do something within the next couple weeks, rather than a month,” she said.
As for safety concerns regarding the hole, and questions about what happens if a small child or someone walking at night fell into the water pit, the city said that’s the responsibility of the building.
Nevertheless, city crews placed a second board over the 4-foot-deep hole on Wednesday.
According to the city, a request was made on June 1 to repair the valve that shuts of water from the water main to the building. One June 15, at the time the work was done, crews determined the necessary repair was on the private side of the water service line. A copy of that notice was sent to the building on July 5.
The city said private contractors can shut of water from the main to the property to make repairs, and claimed it received no request to shut of water to the building.
Officials also said the Breaks and Leaks Program is aimed at replacing lead service lines, which takes time because of the need to come up with a plan and get permits, and is not a substitute for fixing a service line that isn’t supplying water to a building.