Governor Quinn says the clean water initiative will provide long term, low interest loans to communities to upgrade aging water mains, which in some cases are a century old. (Photo used under Creative Commons from Flickr user Pam_Broviak)
By Nick Gale
CHICAGO - Forty years after the passage of the federal Clean Water Act, Illinois has launched a $1 billion effort to overhaul aging water infrastructure.
Making the announcement on the shore of Lake Michigan in Chicago, Gov. Pat Quinn says the Clean Water Initiative will create 28,500 jobs, protect public health, and drive community and business growth across Illinois.
The announcement delivers on the governor’s promise made during his State of the State address this year to rebuild and repair Illinois’ aging drinking water and wastewater infrastructure.
“On this anniversary of the landmark Clean Water Act, we renew our commitment to ensuring that every resident in Illinois has access to safe, clean water,” Quinn said. “Illinois is defined geographically and historically by waterways. Our Clean Water Initiative will put thousands of Illinoisans back to work, protect and improve our drinking water, and preserve this precious, irreplaceable resource for future generations.”
The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency says more than 350 local governments have already expressed need for the program. Currently, many Illinois residents are receiving water through aging water mains that are a century old, and scores of wastewater treatment facilities are in need of repair.
The Illinois EPA and Illinois Finance Authority will expand the State Revolving Fund program to $1 billion in long-term, low-interest loans to local governments for drinking water and wastewater systems.
Since the fund’s inception in 1989, the IEPA has lent $4.3 billion to 472 local Illinois communities. There has never been a defaulted loan during the program’s history.