In the wake of this spring's historic floods, Governor Pat Quinn today signed legislation giving municipalities across Illinois new tools to prevent flooding caused by outdated stormwater management systems. Today's action is part of Governor Quinn's commitment to helping communities across Illinois improve their infrastructure and be better prepared for future floods.
"The historic April flood reminded us of Mother Nature's strength and that we must work to protect our homeowners from future storms," Governor Quinn said. "This law helps governments prepare for heavy rain before it happens and prevent the possibility of great damage and loss to our communities."
Sponsored by State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) and State Representative Mike Fortner (R-West Chicago), Senate Bill 1869 gives Illinois municipalities greater ability to build and invest in innovative stormwater management infrastructure to help mitigate damaging floods such as green roofs, rain gardens, bioswales, tree boxes, porous pavement, native plantings, constructed wetlands and more. The law expands existing law to include these items among the measures a municipality can employ to help prevent flooding.
"As suburban infrastructure expands, more communities are forced to deal with the impact of flooding caused by storm run-off," Senator Cullerton said. "This law outlines cities' unique environmental opportunities to prevent property damage. They have the green light to go green."
"Municipalities have long had a responsibility to ensure stormwater and other run-off is properly handled," Representative Fortner said. "Senate Bill 1869 recognizes the new best practices available and with this law municipalities will be able to use those practices."
Green infrastructure reduces flooding by increasing the natural absorption of stormwater into the ground. It can also capture rainwater for irrigation, reduce run-off pollution of waterways and boost land values by community beautification. These green techniques reduce the stress on traditional sewer systems and water filtration plants.
The legislation grew from an initial proposal made by the Center for Neighborhood Technology, a long-time innovator of green solutions, and was supported by the Illinois Municipal League and Illinois Environmental Council.
Since the historic flooding began in mid-April, Governor Quinn has led an aggressive response and recovery effort for families and businesses that were impacted. Beginning on April 18, Governor Quinn activated the State Emergency Operations Center and called a State of Emergency to alert the federal government and deploy state resources. Governor Quinn visited impacted communities across the state, and worked to get federal aid as quickly as possible for every resident, business and local government in need.
As part of the flood response, Governor Quinn declared 35 counties disaster areas. Since the declaration, Illinois residents and business owners have qualified for $190 million in federal aid and low-interest loans for flood relief. In May, Governor Quinn successfully secured a federal disaster declaration that made these grants and loans available. Federal aid approved to date includes $142.7 million in FEMA grants to more than 58,000 people whose homes and personal items were damaged or destroyed. In addition, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has approved $46.4 million in loans for people and businesses affected by flooding. Governor Quinn also secured federal aid to help local governments in 40 counties recover most of their expenses for response and recovery from April floods.