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Source: US Environment Protection Agency

News Releases from Region 05

10/27/2020

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SPRINGFIELD, ILL. (Oct. 27, 2020) — Today in Springfield, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 5 Administrator Kurt Thiede announced a total of $116 million to modernize water infrastructure in Illinois. This funding will support projects across the state to keep drinking water safe; improve water quality of Illinois’ lakes, streams, and wetlands; and improve children’s health by reducing exposure to lead.

“This Administration has prioritized the safeguarding of all of our water resources, and part of that effort includes replacing and updating water infrastructure,” said EPA Region 5 Administrator Kurt Thiede. “These funds and these actions will protect our water resources, and help protect children from exposure to lead in drinking water. October is Children’s Health Month, and we’re proud of the work we’re doing at EPA to ensure the health of children and communities across Illinois with these efforts.”

EPA announced more than $113 million to the state of Illinois through the clean water and drinking water state revolving loan funds (SRFs). Illinois uses these funds to provide low-interest financing to communities across the state to support planning, designing, and constructing eligible wastewater or drinking water infrastructure projects and activities to protect human health, such as replacing lead service lines. EPA is also announcing more than $1 million for the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) under EPA’s Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act Lead Testing in School and Child Care grant program. The IDPH will use this funding to specifically sample for lead in drinking water at Illinois’ daycare facilities and schools.

“This additional funding will further help to provide safe drinking water and enable Illinois communities to address aging public water supply infrastructure,” said Illinois EPA Director John Kim. “Through the SRF’s public water supply loan program, Illinois EPA awarded over $12.5 million for lead service line replacement projects in fiscal year 2020.  A majority of those recipients received principal forgiveness for their loans.  Illinois EPA is committed to further protecting children and families from the dangers of lead in drinking water by earmarking nearly $108 million in principal forgiveness towards future lead service line replacement projects over the next three fiscal years.”

“As great steps have been taken during the past two decades to reduce the levels of lead in water, we must continue to protect Illinois children from possible exposure in drinking water,” said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. “This grant from the EPA helps put Illinois on a path to drastically reduce lead poisoning among children and our most vulnerable populations across the state.”

The City of Springfield’s City Water, Light and Power (CWLP) was granted an $888,000 SRF award for lead service line replacement, which allows Springfield to upgrade its water infrastructure that runs from the city-owned water main to residences.

“Lead service line replacement is one of the infrastructure challenges the city is facing. We were grateful to get this funding for CWLP to help homeowners reduce lead risks,” said Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder. “Allocating this funding to target low-income households that are also located in some of our oldest neighborhoods ensures we are putting the money to work where it has the strongest impact.”

EPA also announced that Elevate Energy in Chicago was selected to receive a $2 million WIIN Act Reducing Lead in Drinking Water grant to help the Chicago child care community understand the impacts of lead exposure, conduct testing and understand the importance of validation testing, and implement mitigation actions. Elevate Energy will assist 200-250 childcare facilities with efforts to reduce exposure to lead in drinking water. Bilingual education will be included in all key program steps. EPA anticipates that it will award Elevate Energy a grant in the amount of $2 million once all legal and administrative requirements are satisfied. This program will provide critical assistance to comply with Illinois mitigation requirements and better protect children’s health.

“We’re thrilled to provide critical assistance to reduce children’s exposure to lead in drinking water. Thanks to this funding, we will ultimately contribute to a cleaner, safer, and healthier learning environment for our children and secure the success of future generations to come,” said Elevate Energy CEO Anne Evens.

Background

The 2016 Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN Act) addresses, supports, and improves America’s drinking water infrastructure. Included in the WIIN Act are three drinking water grants that promote public health and the protection of the environment. Since 2018, EPA has made available more than $69 million to support testing for lead in drinking water at schools and childcare programs and $42.8 million to assist public water systems in underserved, small, and disadvantaged communities meet Safe Drinking Water Act requirements.

For more information visit: https://www.epa.gov/safewater/grants

For more information about Children’s Health Month: https://www.epa.gov/children/childrens-health-month-resources

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