Austin residents without water for more than a week

February 28, 2014
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What started as a concern for one Austin family about mucky, dusty water in their home turned into a days-long nightmare that took over a week to solve.

Deborah Tubbs and her husband were without running water from Feb. 19 until today, Feb. 28, and because their heat operates through a radiator, they were without that as well.

Tubbs said she called the Chicago Department of Water Management about the mucky water coming out of her faucet and was told there had been no reports of contamination in her area.

The next morning she and her husband woke up to no running water in their house.

“I called 311 and the water department twice,” Tubbs said. “Everyone said they were working on it.”

Tubbs and her husband were one of several families in the 5200 block of West Lexington Street who reported going without water for several days this month.

Since Jan. 1, there have been more than 4,500 residents throughout Chicago who have filed complaints with the city’s water department. That’s more than four times the number of complaints recorded for the same period last year.

Elce Redmond, an organizer with South Austin Community Coalition Council, said being without water that long is a serious issue.

“This speaks to the issue of infrastructure,” Redmond said.

He said it makes no sense that residents can’t have a basic necessity such as water.

Renee Thomas, who contacted AustinTalks about the Tubbs being without water, said it makes no sense to her either that people would not have water or heat for over a week in such cold weather.

“It’s sad our side of town has to go through all this,” Thomas said.

The unusually cold weather has been affecting pipes in other parts of the city as well, according to a recent story in the Chicago Tribune.

Tubbs said she had to miss several days of work waiting on someone from the water department to come out and assess the problem.

“They said that if we weren’t home when they come, we’ll be placed back at the end of the list,” she said.

She said she was also told that if the problem was inside her house, she’d have to pay for the repairs.

“They investigated this morning and did the marking,” Tubbs said on Tuesday. “But they couldn’t make any guarantees they could actually fix the problem.”

After they left, she received a text stating her claim had been addressed, even though the problem didn’t get fixed until three days later.

Some of her neighbors also are frustrated.

“One of my neighbor’s water was fixed this weekend, but it only worked for one day,” Tubbs said.

No one from the water department has responded to AustinTalks’ request for comment.

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