The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Chicago Area Water Crisis

Nov 8, 2021

Working class residents of Dixmoor, a village neighboring Chicago’s South Side, have been without water for over two weeks.

A decrepit, over-100-year-old underground system of water pipes and valves, including a critical supply pipe from the adjoining village of Harvey, burst open around October 16th. Initial reports described a valve failure and water main pipe break. Then, as water pressure shifted in the system, multiple other pipes burst, and the system effectively crumbled. A massive leak of 720,000 gallons gushed out in 24 hours.

Dixmoor, with a population of 3,500, experienced a full-blown crisis, as officials declared a “state of emergency.” The village, lacking adequate resources from the state and federal government, was totally unprepared, especially since five of the six of Dixmoor’s public works employees had been laid off several days before the crisis began. Virtually no water was available for seven full days. Residents were notified that if any small amount of water was delivered within the damaged system, it must be boiled before using it for drinking or cooking. Personal cleanliness was nearly impossible given the contaminated water. Bottled drinking water became available for those who could get to the Village Hall. Those who couldn’t had to fend for themselves.

West Harvey-Dixmoor public schools closed entirely for seven days. Since then, their education has been limited to a hasty and disorganized system of remote learning with computers in short supply. A sixth grader told the media: “I was pretty good at remote learning, but I don’t want to do it again!”

Dixmoor is only one small example of the ravaged, outmoded, and quickly disintegrating infrastructure in this country. For this richest country in the world, one with a system where profit of a few billionaires is the only thing that really matters, repairing the systems which bring essential services to the population remains among the lowest priorities.