Governor Pat Quinn today was joined by thousands of water professionals from around the world to officially open the 86th annual Water Environment Federation Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC®) at McCormick Place in Chicago. Governor Quinn is committed to protecting the environment by modernizing Illinois' water infrastructure and in recognition of the conference, he proclaimed October as "Water's Worth It" Month in Illinois.
"Water is an essential and limited natural resource and Illinois is fortunate to have reliable access to clean water," Governor Quinn said. "I encourage all Illinois residents to observe "Water's Worth It' month by recognizing the challenges involved in maintaining clean and safe water, and the need to maintain and modernize our water infrastructure. We are grateful to have dedicated water professionals and volunteers who work every day to ensure people have access to clean water."
Since its first meeting in Chicago in 1928, the conference has grown into the largest of its kind in North America. WEFTEC offers water quality professionals from around the world the best water quality education and training available today. Also recognized as the largest annual water quality exhibition in the world, the expansive show floor provides unparalleled access to the most cutting-edge technologies in the field; serves as a forum for domestic and international business opportunities; and promotes invaluable peer-to-peer networking between its 20,000 attendees. The 2013 conference runs from October 5-9.
Governor Quinn launched the $1 billion Illinois Clean Water Initiative in his 2012 State of the State Address to help local governments facing a critical need to overhaul aging drinking water and wastewater treatment plants and distribution and collection systems. The Clean Water Initiative is funded with annual federal grants, funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and additional principal and interest from loan repayments. No new state tax dollars are used.
"Governor Quinn's Clean Water Initiative is absolutely vital for growing our economy and protecting Illinois' environment for this and future generations," Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Director Lisa Bonnett said.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, it is estimated the total water infrastructure needs in Illinois over the next 20 years total $32 billion, including $17 billion in wastewater projects (which is the 6th highest among the states) and $15 billion in drinking water projects (4th highest need in the nation).