The Spark

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

Floods Overwhelm Chicago System

Apr 29, 2013

On April 18, the Chicago area was hit by extremely heavy floods made worse by the aging water control system. Running water blocked roads and highways. Manholes spewed sewage mixed with rainwater, three cars fell into a sinkhole when a 98-year-old underground pipe broke, and thousands of people lost power. Storm water mixed with sewage was released into Lake Michigan – where the city gets its drinking water. Not to mention all the flooded basements and other damage to buildings. More than five inches of rain fell in some areas in one day, which the inadequate water and sewer system couldn’t handle.

Back in the 1970s, engineers came up with a solution to the problem of flooding in Chicago called the Deep Tunnel. This tunnel system would divert up to 17.5 billion gallons of storm water into massive reservoirs, keeping the sewage system from backing up onto the streets and into basements. Construction began in 1975 – but it’s not due to be finished until 2029 – just in time to need repairs all over again! Those parts of the tunnel that are finished can only handle 2.3 billion gallons of water and were overwhelmed by the storm. That is great for construction companies but lousy for the population that depends on these tunnels.

It would be easy to hire some of the thousands of unemployed construction workers in the area and finish the Deep Tunnel quickly, supplementing it with other water control methods, along with modernizing the rest of the region’s aging water and sewer system. But that would mean making the needs of the population a priority – hardly this capitalist system’s priority!