Governor Pat Quinn today highlighted his recently announced $1 billion Illinois Clean Water Initiative in an address to the 2012 American Water Summit.
This water initiative is part of the governor’s agenda to create jobs and drive economic growth while purifying and preserving this critical natural resource.
“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.”
Governor Quinn was joined last month by United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, labor leaders, environmental activists and local government officials today to launch the governor’s $1 billion Illinois Clean Water Initiative, which will overhaul Illinois’ aging water infrastructure. The announcement today was made on the shores of Lake Michigan.
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.
The Clean Water Initiative will be the subject of the Governor’s talk to the American Water Summit.
The American Water Summit has now become recognized as a core annual event to help build a foundation for a successful water future. As an agenda-defining event delivering both the intimacy and openness of a boardroom meeting, the Summit, since its inception in 2010, brings together the leaders from both the public and private sectors — to make the connections, exchange ideas/knowledge and lay the groundwork for a sustainable future within the water/wastewater infrastructure and service arena.
The 3rd annual summit is being held in Illinois for the first time with nearly 400 senior management officials from public and private utilities, municipal, state and federal governments, equipment suppliers, new technology companies, investors, and non-governmental organizations with the goal of promoting solutions to the country’s critical water infrastructure needs for the 21st century.
The two previous Summits reflected record breaking attendance for a water conference. Both were sold out events. Last year, the event took place in Atlanta and explored creative solutions related to infrastructure finance, the water/food nexus, environmental management in the shale gas industry, and other critical issues facing the American water marketplace. A much talked about discussion panel focused on municipal bankruptcy and included a presentation from senior officials representing Jefferson County (AL). Ironically, within two hours after the conclusion of the panel, the county decided to file for bankruptcy protection – becoming the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in US history.
The initial American Water Summit took place in the Washington DC area in 2010. Topics addressed included: the water-energy nexus, water policy futures, and new funding models. Keynote speakers included select mayors and governors as well as established recognized DC-based politicians. Presentations were made by former Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt, former Governor Ed Rendell, and Mayor Greg Ballard as well as the head of DC Water, George Hawkins and fearless leader of Southern Nevada Water Authority, Pat Mulroy.
Governor Quinn’s Clean Water Initiative will create 28,500 jobs, including 9,700 construction jobs; 4,600 indirect jobs in supplier industries (mining, manufacturing and services) and 14,300 jobs supported by growth in related businesses, according to Associated General Contractors. Pipefitters, plumbers, operating engineers, carpenters, electricians, ironworkers and others will go to work replacing broken water mains, building treatment plants, upgrading sewers and cleaning up environmental threats. The Administration expects to use the winter months to drive applications into the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency so projects can begin next spring.
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 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.
To learn more about the Illinois Clean Water Initiative, visit CleanWater.Illinois.gov.
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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: How Barack Obama, Two Bookstore Owners, and 300 Volunteers did it. 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