SPRINGFIELD —Illinois EPA Director Lisa Bonnett today convened the first Water Loss Accounting Steering Committee meeting at Agency headquarters. The meeting coincides with Drinking Water Week, a national observance that highlights the value of water to each of us in our everyday lives. The week May 4-10 has also been proclaimed by Governor Pat Quinn as Drinking Water Week in Illinois.
“More than 12.4 million people are served daily by 5,500 public drinking water systems, ranging from small community water supplies to a large metropolitan drinking water system,” said Director Bonnett. “Each Illinoisan relies on their water system to provide a safe and dependable supply of water, both now and in the future.”
Governor Quinn has tasked Illinois EPA with assisting communities to identify water loss impacts that can be addressed through water conservation improvements. Illinois’ Water Loss Accounting Program Steering Committee will work to promote water loss accounting to community water supplies. This group will gather information on best practices, costs and benefits, train and conduct outreach with Illinois municipalities. The committee’s first meeting corresponds with Drinking Water Week, which recognizes the importance of water source protection and conservation, as well as the value, importance, and fragility of our state’s water resources.
“For too long, our aging water supply infrastructure has been an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ problem. But not anymore,” said Hal Sprague, Water Policy Manager at the Chicago-based Center for Neighborhood Technology. “The water lost each year from utility leaks in the Great Lakes states alone would fill the Willis Tower sixteen times. Thanks to the leadership of Illinois EPA and the Illinois’ Water Loss Accounting Program Steering Committee, our state is addressing the critical issue of water loss, and providing utilities with guidance and encouragement to find and fix the leaks.”
“Water loss in our drinking water pipes costs every single Illinoisan money, wasting water and the energy used to pump and treat that water,” said Karen Hobbs, Senior Policy Analyst for NRDC. “By better understanding the extent of water loss across the state, Illinois EPA will be able to help utilities address this problem, reducing costs for utilities, saving consumers money and better protecting our water resources.”
The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency works with community water supplies to make sure that the water delivered to consumers meets all federal and state standards and is clean and abundant. These efforts are vital to Illinois’ economy and to the public health of our citizens. The tasks facing state drinking water programs and public water systems continue to be extremely challenging. The drinking water infrastructure in many cities is aging and presents daunting resource demands. Water loss is a significant issue facing many communities and the Water Loss Accounting Program will provide much needed education and resources to community water supplies.
Another major effort to assist community water supplies is the Illinois Clean Water Initiative. This initiative makes funding available to communities through low-interest loans in part to meet water quality standards, replace aging water mains and sewers and update drinking water treatment facilities. Through the Clean Water Initiative, Illinois communities are able to keep drinking water safe, decrease energy costs and create green jobs. Governor Quinn's has expanded the Illinois Clean Water Initiative to help local governments improve their climate resiliency by updating their stormwater treatment capacity to respond to more frequent, intense storm events.
Today, Illinois renews its commitment to build on the successes of the past 39 years and to continue to work with all of our partners in the water community to fully realize the public health goals of the Safe Drinking Water Act.