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Illinois governor launches $1 billion Clean Water Initiative

CHICAGO — Illinois Governor Pat Quinn was joined by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, labor leaders, environmental activists and local government officials to launch the governor’s $1 billion Illinois Clean Water Initiative, which is expected to rebuild and repair Illinois’ aging drinking water and wastewater infrastructure and create 28,500 jobs, protect public health, and drive community and business growth across Illinois. The Administration expects to use the winter months to drive applications into the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency so projects can begin next spring.

“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. “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.”

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 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.