Water crisis in southern Illinois – Broken main replaced, but water not ready to drink

BENTON, Ill. - A water crisis in southern Illinois began with a break at a water plant, leaving thousands to conserve water as taps quickly run dry throughout several counties.

All of the water from the Rend Lake Conservancy District Travels through the rusted-out piece of pipe that blew. It provides water to more than 175,000 people across southern Illinois.

The pipe was replaced Friday morning, but the water’s not quite ready to drink yet.

The water crisis is affecting six counties, including Franklin, Hamilton Jefferson, Perry, Williamson and parts of Jackson County in Illinois.

Some cities have instructed restaurants, businesses and hotels to close hoping to help conserve water. Many school districts have also cancelled classes and several municipalities have a burn ban in place. Some cities are also suggesting people avoid doing laundry, washing dishes or watering lawns until water levels are restored around the area.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner came to tour the water plant and declared nine counties a distaste area.

The plant is once again taking in water from Rend Lake but it’ll be a while before local water storage tanks will be refilled. The plant will test the water on Saturday and the results should be in early Sunday evening, but then local water distributors will need to test their own water supply which could until the end of next week. A boil order remains in place until the all clear is given.

Several city agencies are offering free or low-cost water and SIU Rec Center is offering free showers to those that need them.