Illinois Environmental Protection Agency’s Bureau of Water “monitors the quality of the state’s surface and groundwater resources; runs a municipal, stormwater, and industrial effluent permitting program; administers a permit program for community water supplies; regularly inspects sources of water pollution and drinking water treatment facilities; responds to citizen complaints; insures compliance with regulatory standards; and enforces applicable regulatory requirements.” The Drinking Water Watch provides online information on the quality of water produced by community water supplies in Illinois.
The state’s constitution includes a section on environmental rights, which says, “Each person has the right to a healthful environment. Each person may enforce this right against any party, governmental or private, through appropriate legal proceedings subject to reasonable limitation and regulation as the General Assembly may provide by law.”
8/27/2021 signed by Governor, effective date 1/1/2022
The Act creates a low-income water assistance policy and program as well as the Lead Service Line Replacement Fund in the State Treasury to be used by the Agency and the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. The Fund will finance and administer programs and activities associated with identifying and replacing lead service lines and to build Agency capacity. The bill bans partial replacement of lead service lines. Beginning January 1, 2022, a lead in drinking water protection fee will be imposed on billed water usage based on census tract median income. Through financial resources provided by the Fund, the Agency will make available grants to community water suppliers to replace lead service lines. Initial lead service line replacement plans must be submitted by April 2024. The Act also creates a Lead Service Line Replacement Advisory Board to oversee the operation and administration of these programs. According to IEC, “every municipality in Illinois will be required to develop and execute a plan that inventories, removes and replaces ALL lead service lines while prioritizing replacement in our most vulnerable communities.”
This Act was established to invest in clean water infrastructure and work force development by creating a Clean Water Workforce Pipeline Program, with funding from appropriations made from the Build Illinois Bond Fund, Capital Development Fund, or General Revenue Fund. Funds go to community organizations, educational institutions, workforce investment boards, community action agencies, and multi-craft labor organizations to implement training. Highlights include: “It shall be an annual goal of the Program to train and place at least 300, or 25% of the number of annual jobs created by State financed water infrastructure projects, whichever is greater, of the following persons in water sector-related apprenticeships annually: residents of environmental justice communities; residents of economically and socially disadvantaged communities; those returning from the criminal justice system; foster care alumni; and, in particular, women and transgender persons. In awarding and administering grants under this Program, the Department shall strive to provide assistance equitably throughout the State.”
This bill established a timeline and requirements for testing of lead in schools, the development of a comprehensive lead service line inventory by community water systems, and notification of the presence of lead to affected customers.
“The corporate authorities of any municipality that operates a waterworks system and that incurs reasonable costs to comply with Section 35.5 of the Illinois Plumbing License Law shall have the authority, by ordinance, to collect a fair and reasonable fee from users of the system in order to recover those reasonable costs. Fees collected pursuant to this Section shall be used exclusively for the purpose of complying with Section 35.5 of the Illinois Plumbing License Law.”
Section 35.5: Lead in drinking water prevention
“The purpose of this Section is to require (i) school districts or chief school administrators, or the designees of the school districts or chief school administrators, to test lead with the goal of providing school building occupants with an adequate supply of safe, potable water; and (ii) school districts or chief school administrators, or the designees of the school districts or chief school administrators, to notify the parents and legal guardians of enrolled students of the sampling results from their respective school buildings.”
“If any of the samples taken in the school exceed 5 parts per billion, the school district or chief school administrator… shall promptly provide an individual notification of the sampling results, via written or electronic communication, to the parents or legal guardians of all enrolled students and include the following information: the corresponding sampling location within the school building and the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s website for information about lead in drinking water. If any of the samples taken at the school are at or below 5 parts per billion, notification may be made as provided in this paragraph or by posting on the school’s website.”
This section established that owners and operators of community water systems are required to “create a comprehensive lead service line inventory; and (ii) provide notice to occupants of potentially affected residences of construction or repair work on water mains, lead service lines, or water meters.”
The inventory must identify:
- Total number of service lines within or connected to the distribution system, including privately owned service lines;
- Number of all known LSLs within or connected to the distribution system, including privately owned LSLs; and
- Number of LSLs that were added to the inventory after the previous year’s submission.