Governor Pat Quinn was joined by United States Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, labor leaders, environmental activists and local government officials today to launch the governor's $1 billion Illinois Clean Water Initiative, which will overhaul Illinois' aging water infrastructure.
Announced today on the shore of Lake Michigan, Governor Quinn's Clean Water Initiative will create 28,500 jobs, protect public health, and drive community and business growth across Illinois. Today's announcement delivers on Governor Quinn's commitment --made during his State of the State address earlier 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," Governor 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."
"Today, as we celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act, I'm proud to join Governor Quinn and others to launch the Illinois Clean Water Initiative to repair and rebuild Illinois' aging water infrastructure," said Administrator Jackson, who was named in Time Magazine's "100 Most Influential People in the World" list in 2010 and 2012. "This historic commitment will keep water resources clean and safe, protect the health of Illinois families and create thousands of jobs, showing yet again how an investment in clean water is an investment in both our health and our economy."
Governor Quinn's Clean Water Initiative will create 28,500 jobs, including 9,700 construction jobs; 4,600 indirect jobs in supplier industries (mining, manufacturing and services) and 14,300 jobs supported by growth in related businesses, according to Associated General Contractors. Pipefitters, plumbers, operating engineers, carpenters, electricians, ironworkers and others will go to work replacing broken water mains, building treatment plants, upgrading sewers and cleaning up environmental threats. The Administration expects to use the winter months to drive applications into the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency so projects can begin next spring.
The Clean Water Initiative will allow the state to meet the high demand by local governments for safe drinking water and wastewater treatment infrastructure funding. The IEPA reports that 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 nearly a century old and scores of wastewater treatment facilities are in dire need of repair.
"Many of us often take for granted how much infrastructure and government investment goes into providing a reliable water source to millions of homes in Illinois," said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL). "Upgrading this infrastructure through Governor Quinn's Clean Water Initiative will not only improve public health, but it will create thousands of good-paying jobs in Illinois. Today's announcement is a reminder of how successful the Clean Water Act has been over the last 40 years in ensuring that the water we use in our daily lives is safe and clean."
"Governor Quinn's Clean Water Initiative adds the muscle of the state of Illinois to the skilled muscles of Illinois working men and women to build a water system that will serve Illinois residents for decades," said Thomas Villanova, president of the Chicago and Cook County Building and Construction Trades Council, which represents 100,000 union workers. "This will put thousands of our members to work in the coming years and that is good for every worker trying to put food on the table."
The Clean Water Act - enacted in 1972 - fortified federal-state partnerships to tackle polluted lakes and rivers by funding construction of sewage treatment plants, toughened penalties on polluters, and provided new protections to watersheds, waterways and wetlands. Building on that progress, the Clean Water Initiative will fortify state-local partnerships to tackle the state's crumbling water infrastructure, protect public health and ensure access to clean drinking water in communities across Illinois.
"Safe and plentiful drinking water is an absolute essential for local communities. At a time when local revenues are flat, the availability of low interest loans for critical investments in our local water infrastructure is extremely beneficial to the health and welfare of Illinois communities," said Larry Frang, executive director of the Illinois Municipal League.
"The Illinois Clean Water Initiative invests in a better Illinois future by advancing clean-up of our lakes and rivers and protecting vulnerable groundwater resources," said Howard A. Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center. "These clean water infrastructure investments will help our communities achieve upgraded systems for safer drinking water and recreational enjoyment."
Governor Quinn has directed the IEPA and Illinois Finance Authority (IFA) to expand the State Revolving Fund (SRF) program to $1 billion in long-term, low-interest loans to local governments for drinking water and wastewater systems. Since the SRF's inception in 1989, IEPA has lent $4.3 billion to 472 local Illinois communities. There has never been a defaulted loan during the program's history.
The SRF is funded with annual federal grants, a one-time infusion in ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) funds, a federally required state match, plus the principal and interest from loan repayments. No new state tax dollars will be used for the project. Needed equity will be provided by the existing loan portfolio and future federal capitalization grant dollars.
To learn more about the Illinois Clean Water Initiative, visit CleanWater.Illinois.gov