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Illinois American working to replace aging infrastructure

By Steve Tarter
Gate House Media Illinois
Posted Oct. 18, 2015 at 9:15 PM 
From the Pekin Daily Times

If one needed evidence of Peoria’s aging water infrastructure, it was on display last April.

During a three-day period from April 22 to 24, there were three separate water main breaks in different parts of the city — at War Memorial and Brandywine, on McArthur Highway and near UnityPoint Health Methodist Medical Center.

With some of its water pipes over 100 years old, Peoria finds itself among a large group of U.S. cities that have aging water systems. After decades of keeping water rates low and deferring maintenance, scores of drinking water systems across the country that were built around the time of World War II and earlier are in need of replacement.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency projects it will cost $335 million in infrastructure investments over the next 20 years to ensure public health, said Karen Cotton, spokeswoman for the Illinois American Water Co., the company that contracts with Peoria for its drinking water.

“These investments include replacing thousands of miles of pipe and upgrades to treatment plants, storage tanks and other assets,” she said.

To meet the high cost of infrastructure repair, water rates in Peoria have increased three times in the last decade — in 2008, 2010 and 2012 — resulting in a 53 percent increase in the average monthly bill.

Illinois American maintains that increases cover operational costs and prudent investment in water infrastructure. “The typical bill for a residential customer in our Peoria service area using 4,500 gallons a month is about $41.50 a month,” said Cotton.

Meanwhile, major investments have been made to the city’s water system, she said. “To help ensure continued reliable water service, (Illinois American) has invested approximately $100 million over the last 10 years in the Peoria District service area to replace and install water mains, valves, meters and fire hydrants, as well as make upgrades in water treatment,” said Cotton.

“Illinois American’s main replacement program focuses on replacing water mains where leaks occur, corrosion has caused damage or the size of the pipe isn’t sufficient,” she said.

Costs for replacement range from $100 to $350 per linear foot, said Cotton, noting that the Peoria district has over 700 miles of water mains.

“In 2014, the Peoria division invested over $8.3 million to install about 7.8 miles of new water mains. This year, almost $6.5 million is being invested for over 6.6 miles of water main installation. In 2016, over $7 million is planned for seven miles of water main installation,” she said.

In addition to the water mains, Illinois American is investing $7 million in an electrical upgrade at the main water treatment plant in Peoria.

That plant, built in 1890, has undergone a number of improvements over the years, said Cotton.


“Over $24 million was invested to upgrade the historic plant to help meet new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards and implement ultraviolet technology into the water treatment process,” she said.


​How Illinois spends federal aid for water infrastructure
BY JASON KEYSER
Associated Press
September 26, 2015 

CHICAGO — Illinois is framed and bisected by water. Bounded by the Mississippi, the Ohio, the Wabash; cut diagonally by the Illinois; dotted with lakes and blessed with a glittering 60-mile slice of Lake Michigan shoreline, it is a gateway to the biggest source of fresh water on the planet.
Yet the problems that strain drinking water systems in other parts of the U.S. also threaten Illinois. Here's a closer look at the state's use of federal aid to ensure that clean water keeps flowing from the taps:

WATER WOES

In the Chicago area alone, pipes more than a century old are leaking enough water to fill the Willis Tower each week, according to the Metropolitan Planning Council. More intense storms overwhelm the region's giant stormwater and sewer tunnels, sending runoff loaded with untreated human and industrial waste flowing into the Lake Michigan drinking water supply.

Across the state, too, water mains installed in the early 1900s are beyond their useful life. And periods of more extreme drought and precipitation as well as pollutants from agriculture and industry are degrading groundwater resources and infrastructure.

MOUNTING NEEDS

A rather large chunk of change — $18.9 billion, to be precise — would be needed over a 20-year period to ensure that systems can continue to provide safe drinking water in Illinois, according to a 2011 estimate by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The vast majority of that ($12.6 billion) is for the systems of pipes that distribute water. Smaller but still significant sums are needed for water treatment, storage and other projects.

"The amount of money that's spent on water mains just overshadows everything else. It's the age of the pipes," explains Dave McMillan, manager of the division of public water supplies for the Illinois EPA.

That's true in larger cities like Chicago and the East St. Louis area, which are grappling with the sheer scale of the problem. And it's true in smaller communities like Beardstown (population 6,000) on the Illinois River, where it's not just the age of pipes but also local conditions like flooding and a fluctuating water table that are breaking the underground infrastructure.

ILLINOIS' SHARE

The state receives the fourth largest allotment from the main federal aid program for improving the nation's drinking water system. That funding totaled $667 million for Illinois from 2011 to 2015. That ranked high among the states with the largest populations. Illinois, the fifth most populous state, received nearly $52 per capita over those five fiscal years. Of the 10 most populous states, only two got more aid per resident: Michigan ($62) and New York ($53).

STAGGERING SCALE

The large amount of money coming to Illinois reflects the age of the state's pipes and the massive scale of its distribution systems. Chicago, for example, is in the midst of a 10-year project to replace a staggering 880 miles of water mains. That's part of a $7 billion package of Chicago water and sewer projects that also includes the conversion of three pumping stations from steam to electric power and the installation of 200,000 water meters.

MONEY UNSPENT

Despite the needs, more than $1 billion sits unspent in government accounts nationwide. That is largely the result of project delays, poor management by some states and structural problems.

Like most states, Illinois has shrunk its backlog of unspent money. In 2011, the unspent portion amounted to 20 percent of that year's allotment. By 2015, it was under 6 percent of the cumulative total for those five years.

Through streamlining and better coordination with state authorities, communities are getting better at having projects approved and shovel-ready as soon as the money becomes available, McMillan explains.

Still, the improvement has been sharper in many other states, including New York where the unspent money is around 1 percent.

MONEY SET ASIDE

Not all the federal aid goes directly to capital projects. Some is "set aside" for things like paying salaries or covering other administrative costs. Illinois directed 93 percent of its federal drinking water aid to actual infrastructure, putting it among the five states with the smallest amounts set aside for other uses during the five-year period.


Governor Quinn Announces Investment for Clayton – Camp Point Water Commission 

Governor’s Illinois Clean Water Initiative Investing in Drinking Water Improvements
CAMP POINT – Governor Pat Quinn today announced a $1.078 million investment for drinking water improvements through the Clayton-Camp Point Water Commission. Funded by a low-interest loan through Governor Quinn’s Illinois Clean Water Initiative, the project will create 29 direct and indirect jobs in the community. Today’s announcement is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to drive the economy forward and protect the environment by modernizing Illinois’ water infrastructure.“This project will ensure safe and reliable drinking water service for residents in the Clayton and Camp Point area,” Governor Quinn said. “That’s what our Clean Water Initiative is all about, helping make communities like these even better places to live and work.”
The Clayton-Camp Point Water Commission will use the proceeds of this Clean Water Initiative loan for improvements to its water supply, treatment and water distribution system. These improvements include new well houses, disinfection equipment and rehabilitation of fourteen master meter vaults.“Improving and upgrading these systems is essential for communities facing aging infrastructure that cannot continue to meet residents’ needs,” Illinois EPA Director Lisa Bonnett said. “The Illinois EPA is proud to partner with communities on these projects that are necessary for protecting residents and the environment.”The commission receives additional benefits from the Governor’s Clean Water Initiative as the subsidized loan results in additional savings over the life of the loan. The project is expected to go through the summer of 2015.Governor Quinn first launched the Illinois Clean Water Initiative in his 2012 State of the State Address to help local governments rebuild or repair clean water infrastructure, including our 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, our drinking water supplies and the environment as a whole. In July, Governor Quinn signed legislation that doubles Clean Water Initiative funding to $2 billion and expands the program to include stormwater management and treatment projects.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). To date, more than $1 billion in wastewater and drinking water loans have been awarded under the Illinois Clean Water Initiative.To learn more about Governor Quinn’s Illinois Clean Water Initiative, visit CleanWater.Illinois.gov.

Governor Quinn Announces $5 Million Drinking Water Project in Franklin Park – Governor’s Illinois Clean Water Initiative Will Help Improve Community’s Water
Service
Published on October 5, 2014

FRANKLIN PARK – Governor Pat Quinn today announced a $5.26 million investment to improve the drinking water systems in Franklin Park. Funded by a low-interest loan through Governor Quinn’s Illinois Clean Water Initiative, the project will construct and replace water mains throughout the community, while creating numerous jobs for the area. Today’s announcement is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to drive Illinois’ economy forward and protect the environment by modernizing Illinois’ water infrastructure.
“This project will help Franklin Park improve their drinking water systems and ensure residents have access to clean water now and into the future,” Governor Quinn said. “That’s what our Clean Water Initiative is all about, helping make communities like Franklin Park even better places to live and work.”
Franklin Park will use the $5.26 million Clean Water Initiative loan to construct approximately 4,500 feet of 16-inch diameter transmission mains between the Main Pump Station on W. Belmont Ave. and the King Street Pump Station. Also included in the project is the replacement of approximately 174,000 feet of old and deteriorating 4-inch and 6-inch diameter water mains with an 8-inch diameter water main in the Rueter and West Mannheim residential areas. Additional work includes water main replacement and rehabilitation within the Cullerton Industrial Area. The drinking water project is expected to last through spring 2016.
“We are grateful to Governor Pat Quinn for providing this program that allows municipalities to address their aging infrastructure,” Franklin Park Mayor Barrett Pedersen said. “This low-interest loan lets us take immediate action to address these problems now at a reduced cost and without over burdening taxpayers. Once again, Governor Quinn is helping municipalities increase safety and enhance attractiveness, which facilitates business location and job creation in our community.”
“Improving and upgrading these systems is essential for communities facing aging infrastructure that cannot continue to meet residents’ needs,” Illinois EPA Director Lisa Bonnett said. “The Illinois EPA is proud to partner with communities on these projects that are necessary for protecting residents and the environment.”Governor Quinn first launched the 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, our drinking water supplies and the environment as a whole. In July, Governor Quinn signed legislation that doubles the Clean Water Initiative funding to $2 billion and expands the program to include stormwater management and treatment projects.According to the U.S. EPA, it is estimated the water infrastructure needs in Illinois over the next 20 years will 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). To date, more than $850 million in wastewater and drinking water loans have been awarded under the Illinois Clean Water Initiative.
To learn more about Governor Quinn’s Illinois Clean Water Initiative, visit CleanWater.Illinois.gov.

Illinois Infrastructure: Getting Our Water Systems Up to Snuff Amidst the Climate Crush
Posted: 05/09/2014 4:00 pm EDT Updated: 05/09/2014 4:00 pm EDT
By Henry Henderson, Natural Resources Defense Council's Midwest Office.

Water. In Illinois we have whipsawed back and forth between having too much of it and not enough in recent years. From a flooded and re-reversed Chicago River to the mighty Mississippi being reduced to levels so low it was unnavigable to the barges that carry grain and other bulk commodities, with a historic drought withering corn and soybean in between, the impact of climate change has been impossible to ignore.
Those messes have not been lost on leadership in the Statehouse. Quietly and without much fanfare, Illinois has been laying the groundwork for making the state’s drinking water, wastewater and stormwater systems more resilient, more sustainable, and better prepared for the impacts of climate change. On the heels of this week’s federal climate assessment, there is some serious leadership coming out of Springfield on the issue right now: Governor Pat Quinn announced in his State of the State address that he will secure an additional $1 billion as part of his Clean Water Initiative to support upgrading water systems across the state.The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency will soon be announcing that it will undertake a major study of how much drinking water is lost from leaky old pipes, losing millions of gallons of treated drinking water and costing water utilities and their customers millions of dollars each year.
And just this week the Illinois General Assembly passed legislation that, for the first time ever, makes green infrastructure, water efficiency, and other climate resiliency projects eligible to tap a multi-billion dollar state fund for water infrastructure investments.These kinds of projects had previously been supported with relatively small grants.  But now, thanks to the legislation passed this week, Illinois is going big by allowing these projects to access a dedicated multi-billion dollar revolving loan fund that the state established decades ago. The bill now goes to Governor Quinn for his signature. Given that the Quinn administration championed the legislation, it’s a certainty that it will become law.
The fund has issued more than $3 billion in low-interest loans since it was established in 1988. Last year, Governor Quinn added $1 billion to this fund through his Clean Water Initiative and he plans to put another $1 billion into the pot this year.With so much new funding available, it’s the right time for the state legislature and Governor Quinn to make green infrastructure and water efficiency projects eligible for funding through the Clean Water Initiative. Illinois’ cities and towns are dealing with an increasingly complex set of problems that will tax water infrastructure not designed to address the extremes wrought by climate change:  more frequent floods, more violent rainfall events that overwhelm storm sewers and longer periods of drought that will strain water supplies.
As outlined this week in the federal climate assessment report, climate change is no longer something that looms in the future. It is here. Plaguing Illinois now. And there are some important fixes needed now as scientists expect things to worsen:More flooding on the way: In Illinois, 179 drinking water and sewage treatment plants are already located in flood prone areas. A recent analysis by the Federal Emergency Management Agency of climate change and the risk of flooding shows that Illinois counties can expect between a 40% and 90% increase in the size of areas susceptible to flooding by the end of the century.
More violent rainstorms will overwhelm aging stormwater systems: Statewide, the annual number of precipitation events greater than 3 inches has increased by 83 percent over the last 50 years, and the amount of total precipitation during these events has increased by 100 percent.  As the climate continues to warm, the number of days with rainfall greater than 1 inch is projected to increase up to 30 percent by mid-century, overwhelming stormwater systems and leading to more instances of localized flooding.Hotter temperatures bring drought: While annual average precipitation is projected to increase slightly (2 to 8 percent) by mid-century, average precipitation during the summer is projected to decrease by up to 10 percent.  This would coincide with projected summer temperature increases of 5 to 6°F. Hotter temperatures combined with decreased precipitation could contribute to drier soils and more droughts. A report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that the extreme heat seen in the 2012 drought is now four times more likely to happen than in the past because of climate change.
​It’s critically important that we take these kinds of future impacts into account when we’re designing and building drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater systems, since they have lifetimes measured in decades. Failing to factor in the impacts of climate change and the risk of future floods, storms and droughts could prove to be a costly mistake.Making low-interest loans, loan guarantees, and other forms of financing available is essential to making green infrastructure and water efficiency part of communities’ water future. When funding is made available, it removes the biggest barrier to deploying these techniques and allows communities to scale up their efforts accordingly.NRDC has given the President’s Climate Preparedness and Resiliency Task Force a set of detailed recommendations on how to use revolving loan funds to make water infrastructure funds ready for climate change. Governor Quinn is a member of that Task Force.Other states should follow Illinois’ lead and the example that Governor Quinn has begun to establish. Across the nation, states have about $110 billion in capital available through similar water infrastructure funds, which are supported by annual federal and state appropriations. As climate impacts worsen, they are going to need to tap that cash. And if they are smart, they will follow Illinois’ lead with a focus on water efficiency and green infrastructure to get the job done smartly.This post originally appeared on NRDC's Switchboard blog.