Last October, Governor Pat Quinn was joined by the EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, labor leaders, environmental activists and local government officials to announce the launch of a $1 billion Illinois Clean Water Initiative, which will overhaul Illinois’ aging water infrastructure. A number of projects have been announced since last October and the latest is a water project announced by Governor Quinn yesterday in Decatur that will invest $13 million dollars to rehabilitate and modernize the “Decatur Sewer System and Wastewater Treatment Plant.”
The Decatur project will help meet the clean water needs of nearly 90,000 are residents and create 160 direct and indirect jobs. This announcement is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to drive Illinois’ economy forward and protect the environment by modernizing Illinois’ water infrastructure.
“A region’s economic and environmental strength is based on the availability of clean water,” Governor Quinn said. “By making critical infrastructure investments now, we can create jobs and make sure that every person and business in the area can have the clean water access they need to live and work.”
The city of Decatur will receive an $8.6 million low-interest loan to rehabilitate portions of its sewer system that have been determined to be most at risk of causing: loss of service for a large number of customers, high volumes of untreated discharges to Lake Decatur (the city water supply), significant property damage and very high repair costs in the event that they fail. Many of these critical portions of the overall 2.2 million foot sewer system were constructed very deep and are located in highly developed areas, including Lake Shore Drive.
“These loans will help city taxpayers avoid expensive emergency repairs and protect residents from harmful effects should these sewers fail,” said Decatur Mayor Mike McElroy. “These are responsible investments that will pay off for Decatur for years to come.”
The Sanitary District of Decatur will receive a $4.1 million low-interest loan to make a number of critical upgrades to its wastewater treatment facility located on the Sangamon River. The project will include replacing the primary digestor, which has experienced mechanical problems and surpassed its useful life, with a new digestor that will also meet new employee safety standards while increasing the plant’s efficiency and further protecting the area’s water supply from pollutants.
“Loans like these have been an important financing tool for the Sanitary District of Decatur for many years,” Dan Smallwood, president of the Board of Trustees, said. “This investment will help us continue to update our facilities while keeping costs to residents at a reasonable level.”
The first loan of the governor’s Illinois Clean Water Initiative was a $4.8 million dollar loan awarded to the city of Pekin to improve a wastewater treatment plant in December. Governor Quinn addressed the 2012 American Water Summit in November as he discussed the Illinois’ Clean Water Initiative projects.
Governor Quinn told the American Water Summit that “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.”
Another $21.5 million investment for a major upgrade was granted this past April to the town of Kankakee. A major upgrade of the Kankakee River Metropolitan Agency (KRMA) wastewater treatment plant is projected to create more than 600 construction jobs in the area.
Congresswoman Robin Kelly (D-IL) attended and addressed the press conference in Kankakee last April in which the project was announced. Kankakee is a part of the 2nd Illinois Congressional district and Rep. Robin Kelly is committed to helping to revitalize Kankakee and all parts of her congressional district.
“I fully support the Clean Water Initiative’s project to upgrade the KRMA Wastewater Treatment Plant” U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL) said. “This project is not only critical to preserving the vitality of the river and the supply of clean drinking water for residents, it will also serve as a much-needed economic engine for the region, creating more than 2,800 direct and indirect jobs.”
Together, these projects are estimated to create approximately 113 direct construction jobs for area trade union members, including laborers, plumbers, pipefitters, Teamsters, electricians, carpenters and operating engineers, as well as about 48 indirect jobs related to purchase of services, supplies and equipment. The CWI provides a local economic boost across the state by insuring adequate water and sewer infrastructure for residents and business alike and supports an estimated 28,000 jobs throughout Illinois.
“These projects will improve the quality of life for tens of thousands of residents in the Decatur area and will support the quality of life and business climate for years to come,” Lisa Bonnett, director of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said. “Our agency is proud to work with so many of our local government partners to protect the environment and we want to encourage more communities to get more information about the CWI and how it could help their residents.”
“Governor Quinn’s Clean Water Initiative is a win-win-win,” Chris Meister, executive director of the Illinois Finance Authority, said. “Taxpayers save money from low-interest rate loans and thousands of men and women in the unionized buildings and trades will go to work on projects that will ensure clean safe water for their communities. On behalf of our Chairman Bill Brandt and our entire volunteer board, the Illinois Finance Authority is excited to partner with IEPA on financing these vital water infrastructure projects.”
The Governor’s Clean Water Initiative will create 28,500 jobs, protect public health, and drive community and business growth across Illinois. Governor Quinn committed to rebuild and repair Illinois’ aging drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, in his State of the State address earlier this year.
“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.”
According to the U.S. EPA 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).
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.
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John is the author of an award-winning book, the 2010 Winner of the USA National Best Book award for African American studies, published by The Elevator Group, Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots. Also available an eBook on Amazon. John is also a member of the Society of Midland Authors and is a book reviewer of political books for the New York Journal of Books. John has volunteered for many political campaigns. John is an unpaid volunteer and social media advisor at Robin Kelly for Congress.