Illinois Adds $1 Billion for Water Infrastructure Construction

Bonds are added to existing $300 million program to help pull the state from the top of the neediest-states list

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn launched a $1 billion bond initiative to upgrade sewer lines, water mains and water treatment plants across his state, some of them badly eroded after more than 100 years of service. The initiative expands an existing program that made $300 million available annually through low-interest loans to local governments seeking to avoid environmental hazards brought on by an aging infrastructure.

A recent federal Environmental Protection Agency assessment found that Illinois has the fourth-highest need in the country for drinking water infrastructure improvements. The state ranked sixth-highest in the need for wastewater infrastructure improvements, the assessment said.

State officials said more than 350 local governments have expressed interest in participating in the loan program. Roughly $930 million in proposed projects are awaiting review, and the application process is still open.

In order to keep ahead of a deteriorating infrastructure, Illinois must invest $32 billion in improvements over the next 20 years, EPA officials said.

(More on Illinois water-infrastructure funding . . . )