OAK LAWN – Governor Pat Quinn today signed legislation to help combat flooding across the state and protect Illinois’ drinking water. The legislation makes stormwater management and treatment projects available for state financial assistance following last year’s record rainfall and severe flooding that affected communities across Illinois. At today’s bill signing in Oak Lawn, Governor Quinn also announced that the community will be taking advantage of $12.7 million in low-interest loans from the assistance program for their local water system improvements. Today’s action is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to drive the economy forward and protect the environment by modernizing Illinois’ water infrastructure.
“During last year’s record rainfall and flooding, we learned the hard lesson that flash flooding can have devastating effects,” Governor Quinn said. “The Illinois Clean Water Initiative will now be able to help communities be more prepared than ever before in managing stormwater while creating thousands of construction jobs. This legislation will help to prevent flooding and protect our drinking water from pollution.”
The Governor’s $2 billion Clean Water Initiative has helped communities across the state secure low interest loans for drinking and wastewater infrastructure improvements. This new law builds on the overwhelming success of the program. At today’s bill signing, Governor Quinn also announced that community of Oak Lawn will receive $12.7 million in low-interest loan assistance immediately as part of their nine-project Regional Water System Improvement program. The total $171 million Oak Lawn program will use Clean Water Initiative loans to help fund the majority of the work, with the five-year system improvements creating approximately 1,400 construction jobs.
“Expansion of the Governor’s Clean Water Initiative will provide local governments with the ability to secure low-interest loans for capital projects that will prevent flooding and remove pollutants from stormwater,” Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Director Lisa Bonnett said. “Governor Quinn’s expanded $2 billion financing program is making significant improvements in water quality in our state, and has the added benefit of saving money for local residents and creating an additional 28,000 jobs for Illinois citizens.”
"Climate change is already bringing wild, violent swings to our weather that have exposed serious limitations to Illinois' water infrastructure,” Rob Moore of the Natural Resources Defense Council said. “We've seen flooding throughout the state in the last few weeks as heavy rains overwhelmed stormwater systems. It is going to take new ideas and new tools to meet the future challenges facing our drinking water, wastewater and stormwater systems. Thanks to the efforts of the General Assembly and the leadership of Governor Quinn the legislation signed into law today emphasizes water efficiency, green infrastructure and other proven techniques that will make Illinois more resilient and prepared for the future."
Senate Bill 2780, sponsored by State Senator Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge) and State Representative Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook), expands the Governor’s Clean Water Initiative to include stormwater and green infrastructure projects. Expanding the projects eligible for financial assistance through the Clean Water Initiative will allow the IEPA to provide financial assistance to Illinois communities for storm sewers and stormwater-related activities, including green infrastructure. Governor Quinn first proposed the measure in his 2014 State of the State address. The new law takes effect immediately.
“This measure offers resources to cities, villages and towns that will prevent home flooding, improve water quality and create 28,000 local jobs,” Senator Kotowski said. “In light of recent floods throughout Illinois, it is especially critical that we fund projects to improve stormwater treatment.”
“This is an important step as we work in Springfield to embrace cleaner water and a greener Illinois,” Representative Nekritz said. “By treating stormwater more effectively, we improve the quality of life for our residents and work to limit the damage that flooding causes far too often here.”
Impervious surfaces like pavement and compacted terrain, which prevent rain and snowmelt from soaking into the ground, cover many urban and suburban areas and greatly increase the volume and velocity of stormwater runoff. The recent severe flooding events across Illinois demonstrate the need to fund stormwater treatment and storage projects.
In 2013, Governor Quinn signed Senate Bill 1869 which 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 expanded an existing law to include these items among the measures a municipality can employ to help prevent flooding.
Governor Quinn first launched the $1 billion Illinois Clean Water Initiative in his 2012 State of the State address to help local governments rebuild or repair clean water infrastructure, including aging wastewater and drinking water treatment systems and plants throughout the state. These projects ensure that facilities are being upgraded to protect our streams and rivers, drinking water supplies and the environment as a whole. Due to the overwhelming success of the program, Governor Quinn announced in his 2014 State of the State address that he was doubling the available financing to $2 billion. For more information regarding the program, please visit CleanWater.Illinois.gov.