Nearly 3,000 people who live in Ford Heights are in danger of having their water shut off. And residents say village officials in the south Chicago suburb haven’t told them what’s going on.
“It was a surprise to everybody. They did not give us any notice,” Ford Heights resident Arthur Sanders told WBEZ on Thursday.
Chicago Heights gets its water service from Hammond, Indiana, since rates are lower than what the city of Chicago charges municipalities.
In turn, Chicago Heights supplies water to Ford Heights, one of the poorest towns in Illinois. Chicago Heights officials say Ford Heights owes them $2 million for water service.
If it doesn’t get the money in one week, the city is threatening to shut off water service.
The two sides met last week to negotiate a deal.
“The meeting was productive enough to allow for another meeting to be scheduled on Sept. 9 to conclude, hopefully, a final agreement in order to avoid a Sept. 15 service termination,” Chicago Heights Mayor David Gonzalez said in a written statement. “As a good neighbor, Chicago Heights is eager for a mutual agreement with Ford Heights over its outstanding $2 million water bill, which has been subject to court proceedings for more than one year. An agreement is Chicago Heights’ preferred outcome.”
Ford Heights Mayor Charles Griffin could not be reached for comment. He did not return phone calls left by WBEZ at his office.
The two sides are scheduled to meet Friday to try to come to a resolution.
Sanders said he doubts the village will actually lose its water supply.
“I don’t think they’ll let that happen. Too much is involved,” Sanders said.
Michael Puente is a reporter for WBEZ covering news & issues in Northwest Indiana, Chicago’s Southeast side & southern suburbs.