Governor Pat Quinn today highlighted his recently announced $1 billion Illinois Clean Water Initiative in an address to the 2012 American Water Summit. The 3rd annual summit is being held in Illinois for the first time with nearly 400 senior management officials from public and private utilities, municipal, state and federal governments, equipment suppliers, new technology companies, investors, and non-governmental organizations with the goal of promoting solutions to the country's critical water infrastructure needs for the 21st century. This initiative is part of the governor's agenda to create jobs and drive economic growth while purifying and preserving this critical natural resource.
"No matter where they live, everyone in Illinois needs access to safe, clean water," Governor Quinn said. "The Clean Water Initiative will ensure that we protect this precious state resource. By modernizing our water infrastructure, we can create tens of thousands of jobs and safeguard our waterways for generations to come."
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.
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.