UPDATED: Break Repaired; Boil Order Still On for Residents

A water-main break reportedly has caused a major loss of water pressure to the Village of Western Springs.

UPDATED, 3:25 p.m.: A second CodeRED alert from the Village has confirmed that the water main break has been repaired.

Residents are advised that there still may be silt discoloration in their water and to run their lowest cold-water taps to rid the pipes of residue.

The boil order remains in effect for all water used for drinking or cooking. The order will remain in effect until tomorrow when the Village will recieve lab test results on the water.


The Village of Western Springs deployed a CodeRED alert at 6:42 a.m. Tuesday morning issuing a boil order on Western Springs water.

A water main break near the base of the Western Springs Water Tower has caused weakening or loss of water pressure to most of the village, the alert said.

Boil orders are issued when it is possible that a water source has been contaminated. According to the Center for Disease Control, "boiling can be used as a pathogen reduction method that should kill all pathogens. Water should be brought to a rolling boil for one minute."

Residents can call the police non-emergency number at 708-246-8540, the water department at 708-246-1800 x 215 or the public works department at 708-246-1800 x 200 for additional information.

This is a breaking news alert. Patch coverage will continue.

Mouse November 27, 2012 at 03:42 PM
From the Tribune: . "Hayes said that an alarm is supposed to go off, notifying the police of a break of this nature, but the system did not work and no one in his department knew of the break until early this morning. He said the village water plant has been under construction for more than a year because the village is changing its water treatment methods but does not know if that had anything to do with the alarm system not working." . You run a water utility that doesn't notice when almost a million gallons of water goes missing, you have alarm systems that don't work, and you have no idea what could possibly have gone wrong. Yeah, that is real comforting. I don't trust anything these clowns say or do. It is time to clean house and hire professionals.
moi November 27, 2012 at 03:52 PM
I wish more residents would chime in on this problem. They just don't seem to care. What are they afraid of? Our plumbing to going to h...!!! Maybe they have the $$ to replace their water related appliances and mineral encrusted faucets.
Mécénat Bistro November 27, 2012 at 05:04 PM
It is really troublesome that water issues keep arising, we have had to shut our doors 3 times this year because of this already. That is a pretty big hit on a NEWER small business. Worst part about it, is 2 of the 3 times, they didn't tell us they were shutting our water off til they had already done it. My business can not run without running water, it is against health code. I hope this gets fixed quickly-with holiday parties and stuff-we can not keep having to close and losing the revenue!
Joseph R. Martan November 27, 2012 at 05:28 PM
Water problems have certainly increased ever since the onset of "upgrading" the water plant. This is a crock. It's bad enough that our water quality has suffered with increased mineralization and sediment (I just had to replace a water heater that was barely three years old because the sediment was plugging it up forcing the water through the top of the heater). Now, we see an increasing number of water main breaks. Come on village - get with the program. With all this difficulty, why not just get Lake Michigan water like everyone else? What is the "virtue" of our present system?
Stephanie Holt November 27, 2012 at 05:35 PM
I've noticed that the water quality seems to have degraded even more the last few days. I had been hopeful things were getting better because the orange tint had disappeared, at least where I live, but the "feel" of the water has become more sticky. Just a thought - this ongoing drought is compacting and shifting our clay soils, which may contribute to breakage, especially when the infrastructure is aging.
Frank Schimmel November 27, 2012 at 07:53 PM
a fifty year old pipe broke. Not good, Worse, the system that notifies the Police Dept. did not work. Don't know how any of this is related to the new plant though. Considering the events, I think the Village is handling as good as anyone else.
Mouse November 27, 2012 at 08:27 PM
Frank, it's not just this one event. Look at the whole situation over the last two years. You can't explain this with random breaks (a big pipe like this should last much longer than 50 years if the water is not corrosive...oops!) or drought conditions. It's a mess and has been mismanaged since day 1. For example, they forgot to tell ComEd about a needed transformer, delaying the project (how stupid was that?). Another: The alarm system which should have immediately notified them about this major system failure was disconnected. There is no downside for lackadaisical performance since (a) you can't sue the Village for damages and (b) the million gallons of water they wasted didn't cost them anything beyond the electricity to run the pumps. Nobody is ever held responsible when the Village screws up. . To Joseph R. Martan above, the Village lost its allocation of Lake Michigan water awhile back due to not using it. When the water plant boondoggle was concocted in the 1990's one Village Trustee said (paraphrasing) during an open meeting that "we don't want Lake Michigan water; we make more money pumping it ourselves". Now we can't even get Lake water. Another instance of mismanagement and hubris which has hurt the residents and businesses. I feel for operations like Mécénat Bistro above who are immediately and directly affected by this and can't recover the lost income. Who in their right mind would open in WS with this bunch running the show?
Greg Ciesla November 27, 2012 at 09:16 PM
I do know of at least one other suburb, Winnetka, that has experienced significantly more water main breaks than normal over the last year due to the drought. The soil and clay dry up and then when water comes rushing through the pipe, it shakes more than normal and breaks. Not much you can do about it but repair it. Infrastructure breaks down over time, no matter the material. Not excusing possible mismanagement by the Public Works Department, especially with the whole water filtration system drama over the last year, but Pipes break. The Village should sue the manufacturer of the alarm system that didn't go off.
Frank Schimmel November 27, 2012 at 09:18 PM
Lake Michigan water is what you want, correct? Well that ship has sailed. Get over it. As for the corrosive pipe issue, the new water sytem should correct that problem when it goes on line, some time next month. All of the water main breaks can be traced to the drought. New pipes broke during the drought. Why can't you sue the Village?
Mouse November 27, 2012 at 09:36 PM
If you were asking me, then no, you are not correct. I don't really care where the water comes from as long as it is clean, safe and you don't need a spoon to drink it. I was answering the question as to why we didn't go with that instead of this mess. As for the corrosive pipe issue, it's corrosive water that is the problem and there are several treatments which prevent the holes which you see in the pipe segments they have dug up all summer. It never should have been this bad, ever. That's incompetence showing. The pipes rarely just break...they are eaten through. Also, the pipes don't "shake" unless there are multiple fire-hydrant-sized users on a short segment. You think your washer filling through little 1" residential feed does anything to a 6" pipe flow? Maybe Winnetka has worse public works employees than we do. As for the alarm, I've got $10 that says it was disconnected due to the water plant work...more operator error. And why didn't the (useless) CodeRED call not go out until over two hours passed, during which people could have been using tainted water?
Mike Scheer November 27, 2012 at 11:21 PM
and the breaks have nothing to do with the reverse osmosis system. Yeah right!! I have some swamp land in Fl for you too.
Mrossi November 28, 2012 at 01:53 AM
I think Reverse Osmosis was actually a very forward-thinking way to go with the water plant. Yes, it has been a long road getting there, but soon we will have water free of many contaminants. This would not be the case with Lake Michigan water.
plumbers daughter November 28, 2012 at 02:16 AM
Im just a plummers daughter, The problem is, we have a new state of the art water system pumping evian water into the same pipes that have been in place under our streets and into our homes for 80 or more years. Its not the new water or the new system its the crappy old pipes that are breaking and will continue to break until they are all replaced after they break.
Paulette Delcourt November 28, 2012 at 02:58 AM
I agree completely. We have control over our own water supply. While I think this is the best solution for the village, I wish the village had communicated that major purchases like water heaters, dishwashers and refrigerators should be put off until the new system was online.
Paulette Delcourt November 28, 2012 at 03:30 AM
A lot of these issues are due to aging infrastructure. But it's hard to make commitments to projects when the State is behind in payments to the towns and villages. I've been watching this issue for about 18 months. I noticed WS's meeting minutes at one point indicated the State was three months behind in their payments to us (these are revenues collected via taxes and owed back to the village). As of February 2012, the State was 4 months behind. Gov. Quinn had a plan in the works to HOLD these payments to pay the State Government's mounting bills - thankfully this measure failed. If you want to breakout the pitchforks and torches, this is something to get mad about. http://saveourcities.iml.org/file.cfm?key=6390
Mouse November 28, 2012 at 04:45 PM
You do know that the plan is to mix non-RO-treated well water back into the system along with RO-treated water, right? And Paulette, you really don't think "we" are in control of anything here, do you? This boondoggle is just getting into the starting gate. They can't run a simple 100-year-old technology system; the RO plant is totally above their pay grade so we'll be paying for consultants, outside engineering, repairs, replacements and repeated downtime for the next 30 years.
Mouse November 28, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Paulette, you blame this on the state but the water system is entirely local and paid with user fees. How much does the Village pay you to sit here and deflect criticism from the real culprits? "Aging infrastructure" is code for "lack of attention and maintenance". They have $millions to spend on model-train-set-looking train stations and planters nobody wants but cry poor when it comes to providing the basic services we PAY FOR every month.
Mouse November 28, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Hey Darren, why is this not pinned to the front page? It is the ONLY news affecting 100% of Western Springs and you've buried it. Did you get a phone call from the Village enforcers again?
moi November 28, 2012 at 04:58 PM
I concur with Mouse. Let's get some answers and action here. Moi
Katherine November 28, 2012 at 05:29 PM
Let's also not forget that the Village wanted to afford an astro-turf field in Spring Rock Park. Let's be fiscally conservative and put our money where it counts. Everyone interested in this should attend the Village meetings.
Katherine November 28, 2012 at 05:42 PM
Last Public Works and Water Committee meeting was yesterday, November 27. Did anyone attend?
moi November 28, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Katherine, I attended the July meeting. I was the only resident there...every other seat was empty.
Beth Clemen November 28, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Mouse What are the several treatments for pipes that prevent corrosion? I'm assuming all of these had to be applied to the pipe before it was installed, and in this case, that would probably mean about 40 years ago. We all know that pipes are eaten through, that is , corroded before they break. What we need to know is how long the various types of pipes installed thru the years will function (not break) under various soils; and if there is a good/low cost acoustic monitoring system available to detect the leaks. Along this same line, do you have any credentials concerning water systems/piping infrastructures/acoustic monitoring/village management, or are you just in general complaining about incompetence. I'm sure there is incompetence to a degree in every village hierarchy as this is not where your graduating engineers are attempting to land their first jobs. David M. Clemen
Katherine November 28, 2012 at 07:11 PM
Did they discuss the recent water main break?
Katherine November 28, 2012 at 07:13 PM
Oops, just saw you said July not November. Do they list minutes somewhere? I could not find any online.
Frank Schimmel November 28, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Check this out http://www.watermainbreakclock.com/ Corrosion is a significant drag on the economy, costing U.S. drinking water and wastewater systems over $50.7 billion annually, or more than $1 trillion dollars over the next twenty years. Not only is this cost calculated in terms of water main break repair, but also in terms of lost water, replacement of corroded pipes and implementation of corrosion-mitigation measures, which are ineffective since they only delay an unavoidable outcome.
Mouse November 28, 2012 at 08:12 PM
Frank, that is a PVC pipe trade group (© 2000 - 2011 Uni-Bell PVC Pipe Association). Totally unreliable source.
Katherine November 28, 2012 at 09:47 PM
I was thinking the same thing. While PVC may be what is needed, you can't rely on the PVC trade group for this endorsement. Of course they think they are the answer :).
Mrossi November 28, 2012 at 10:19 PM
Mouse, believe me, I know what the plan is. I also know what may be in Lake Michigan water and that as a village we would have no control over removing any level of contaminants from that. I suppose there is no perfect solution, and I do wish I had known what was in the WS water before January of this year. I've lived here 9 years and never knew there was an issue with the water, thinking that a Britta filter would be sufficient. I don't drink or cook with this current water, so the boil oder didn't affect me much more than any other day, other than feeling slightly more nervous than usual showering in the water. If this water could be filtered, I would be filtering it, especially in the shower, since you cannot shower in bottled water. The health of my family is my main concern, appliances second. What to do about aging infrastructure--Good question.
plumbers daughter November 29, 2012 at 02:15 AM
Where do they test the water for its purity? From the water treatment center? Trust me, by the time that pure water passes through those old pipes into our homes, it is no longer pure.As for the promise of better water pressure, as dad always says, you can't cram 20 pounds of pressure into a 10 pound box, hence the broken pipes.


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