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Cleanup Likely To Take A While After Pilsen Water Main Break

Pilsen Water Main Break

Crews work to repair a 36-inch water main that ruptured overnight in the Pilsen neighborhood. (Credit: CBS)

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Updated 12/21/11 – 2:41 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — An aging water main that burst in the Pilsen neighborhood on Monday has been repaired, but it will be at least another day before water service is fully restored.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Nancy Harty reports, surging waters from the 36-inch main poured into a number of basements near Benito Juarez Community Academy, 2150 S. Laflin St., where the pipe broke.

The thoroughfare of Ashland Avenue was also left flooded between 18th Street and Cermak Road.

The break left a hole 3 feet in diameter, as big as the main itself. Water Management Department spokesman Tom LaPorte said Wednesday afternoon that crews had completed repairs of the water main and were working on restoring water service and cleanup of the flooding.

Crews must test the pipe to make sure it can hold the water pressure and to make sure the water is safe for use, which takes about 24 hours.

The Pilsen Neighbors Community Council is located at 2026 S. Blue Island Ave., across the street from Juarez high school.

Communications coordinator Alma Campos said the council lost sentimental items, such as posters from over the years promoting the groups’ annual festival.

“We have some from like the ’70s, ’80s, so just a lot of valuable and sentimental items,” Campos said.

Ald. Danny Solis (25th) says those trying to get compensation from the city should make sure to document their claims with pictures.

“Take pictures of whatever damage was done in their basements, and then it’s a process of submitting it and seeing where the city responds,” Solis said.

He estimates claims usually take about six months to be processed.

Solis is making his staff available to help 25th Ward residents fill them out.

Tom LaPorte said Tuesday that many more water main breaks can be expected in Chicago because of the underground infrastructure. There are more than 100,000 miles of cast iron pipes that were put in place between 1890 and1930.

The Pilsen water main dated from 1927.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel cited a need to upgrade water delivery infrastructure in his move to increase water and sewer fees in the 2012 city budget.