Worth residents are encouraged by legislation sponsored by U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-3rd) that would prevent the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers from using the Lucas-Berg Confined Placement Facility as a dumping site for materials dredged from the Cal-Sag Channel.
“Lipinski has been trying to help us all along,” said Adelle Benck, a longtime Worth resident and dumping site opponent.
Residents have long worried that dumping materials dredged from the Cal-Sag into the ditch would lead to a variety of health and environmental concerns, Benck said.
Those concerns include launching air-borne contaminants and polluting the water table with oil residue, mercury and industrial waste, Benck said. There is also the possibility that endangered species, such as eagles, inhabit the ditch, she said.
“So far, we’ve been successful,” said Mary Ann Buckingham, a Worth resident opposed to the dumping. “We’re getting more nervous. My concern is schools and children.”
Legislation that Lipinski helped pass includes a provision contained in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act.
“Since I was first elected to Congress, one of my top local priorities has been to remove Lucas-Berg as the Army Corps’ designated site for dumping dredged materials from the Cal-Sag,” Lipinski said in a press release. “This is very good news for the village of Worth and local residents, but we still have work to do. I am working to make sure that this provision is in the final compromise that passes in the House and Senate and becomes law.”
Lipinski added that he is working with the Army Corps to find a place for the dredging that is not in located the middle of a community.
The Lucas-Berg site was acquired by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District and, through a long-term lease, designated by the Army Corps in the 1970s as a potential spot to store silt and other materials dredged from the bottom of the Cal-Sag Channel.
Since the agreement was reached, Worth and the neighboring communities have grown and expanded and a residential neighborhood abuts the ditch, which is located near 111th Street and Southwest Highway.
Residents have long feared that using the ditch as disposal site would lower property values and harm the environment.
The primary purpose of WRDDA is to authorize projects that maintain the country’s shipping infrastructure and set environmental policy for the Army Corps. The language in WRRDA regarding Lucas-Berg pit is part of a $12 billion worth of old projects and facilities that would be de-authorized.
The Senate passed its version of WRRDA in May. With passage in the House, both bills now head to a conference committee to be reconciled before the final legislation can be signed by the president.