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Illinois Moving on Climate Ready Water Infrastructure

Rob Moore

Posted April 3, 2014 in Solving Global Warming

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The Illinois State Senate unanimously passed legislation that will help make wastewater and stormwater systems better prepared for the impacts of climate change.  SB 2780 will make low-interest loans, loan guarantees, and other forms of financial support available from the state’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF, but knownBy U.S. Government [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons in Illinois as the Water Pollution Control Loan Program) for green infrastructure, water efficiency and other projects essential to making Illinois communities more resilient to floods, droughts, and other climate related impacts.

The bill makes these kinds of projects  eligible for CWSRF support in Illinois for the first time ever.  And the fact that the legislation explicitly recognizes the importance of using CWSRF funds for climate preparedness work is a big deal.

Every state has a Clean Water and a Drinking Water State Revolving Fund. In total they represent about $109 billion in capital nationwide available for water infrastructure. In Illinois, the CWSRF has disbursed more than $3 billion in low-interest loans. Last year, President Obama identified the SRFs as an important tool for getting communities — and their water infrastructure — prepared for the climate of the future.

Governor Pat Quinn committed $1 billion in additional water infrastructure financing in his State of the State address and put forward the legislation. State Senator Dan Kotowski was the lead Senate sponsor, where it passed 53-0.  The bill now goes to the Illinois House, where State Representative Elaine Nekritz ushered the House version of the bill (HB 4382) through unanimous approval by the Environment Committee just last week.

Things are looking good for climate preparedness in Illinois.

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Updated April 4, 2014

The Illinois House of Representatives passed HB 4382 115-0 on April 3, 2014.  The bill is still not due to go to Governor Quinn yet.  In Illinois, either the Senate or the House has to pass the other chamber's bill, even though both houses have passed identical legislation.

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Comments

Ken Glick (EEI)Apr 3 2014 03:07 PM

"… for green infrastructure, water efficiency and other projects essential to making Illinois communities more resilient to floods, droughts, and other climate related impacts."

Not to split hairs here, but floods and droughts have been occurring long before man-made activities have started to impact the climate.

Rob MooreApr 3 2014 03:37 PM

Yes, floods and droughts are nothing new in Illinois or other parts of the country.

But climate change is projected to make both droughts and flooding more common and more severe.

For instance, rainfall events are projected to be much more intense. If more rain falls in a shorter period of time, stormwater systems can be overwhelmed more often than at present. We need to plan for that.

Similarly, droughts may be more common, making water supplies more vulnerable. We may be dealing with more frequent periods of water shortages that history has prepared us for.

An earlier post of mine presented some of the data and climate science on these trends. http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/rmoore/illinois_must_look_ahead_to_an.html

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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