Floods Highlight Infrastructure Needs

Apr 22, 2013

Credit Guy Stephens / WNIJ

Some Illinois officials are pointing to recent torrential rains as a reason to upgrade the state’s underground infrastructure. A massive, car-swallowing pothole tore open a street on the South Side in Chicago. The culprit was an old water main from 1915.

Tom Powers, the city water commissioner, says when it broke during heavy rains, it washed out the street and soil, and the pavement couldn’t handle its own weight.

Powers says the pothole highlights the need to improve the city’s underground infrastructure - an argument Mayor Rahm Emanuel made when he dramatically raised water rates in 2011.

Meanwhile, Governor Pat Quinn says water officials should hurry up with a project to expand the region’s underground stormwater system.

You've got to realize that if we don’t do something about this, you know people will continue to suffer harm. - Gov. Pat Quinn

 Quinn says he wants a “public debate” about water management - once floodwaters recede.

Illinois Public Radio's Alex Keefe contributed to this report.