Gov. Pritzker Signs Legislation to Secure Clean Regional Water

Building upon efforts to ensure communities have access to safe and dependable water, Governor JB Pritzker signed Senate Bill 280, enabling the creation of a Regional Water Commission for Joliet and the surrounding communities. By authorizing the commission to purchase water from Chicago and Lake Michigan, the legislation will help ensure a sustainable drinking water source is available for communities in northeastern Illinois.

“Every community deserves the safety and security that comes from keeping their water running. The legislation I’m signing today not only creates a path for sustainable water for families, but it will bring thousands of local jobs,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “I thank Senator Connor, Representative Walsh Jr., and the lawmakers and community leaders who have built a solution to provide reliable water. I’m proud that we’re taking another step to improve the quality of life for residents in these communities for generations to come.”

The legislation establishes the Regional Water Commissions Act, which would allow for municipalities to form a regional commission to build, own, and operate a water system. To be a part of the commission, municipalities must include at least one municipality with at least 140,000 inhabitants that is located in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, or Will counties.

“I am grateful to Governor Pritzker, Leader Larry Walsh, Jr., Senator John Connor and the entire Joliet-area legislative delegation for making this new water commission law a reality,” said Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk. “This will enable us to address our drinking water needs as a region, for the benefit of generations to come.”

“I applaud Governor Pritzker and the General Assembly for supporting this important legislation, which lays the groundwork for a regional solution to local water challenges,” said Will County Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant. “Establishing a Regional Water Commission is a critical first step in ensuring that residents of Joliet and the surrounding communities continue to have access to clean water long into the future.”

“This legislation will allow Will County communities to come together to provide safe, clean, and sustainable drinking water for generations to come,” said Hugh O’Hara, Executive Director of the Will County Governmental League. “Working together will allow our region to accomplish all this in the most cost effective way possible. We want to thank the bill sponsors Representative Larry Walsh Jr and Senator John Connor, all of those that voted for the bill, and Governor Pritzker for his support of our region’s approach to providing safe and sustainable water.”

In northeastern Illinois, more water has been drained from the aquifers than is replenished, causing water levels to drop. As a result, the aquifer currently supplying Joliet’s wells is not projected to meet the demands by 2030. The newly created commission will be able to best meet the needs of their local communities.

“Water is our most basic necessity—we can’t sustain our community without it,” said State Senator John Connor (D-Lockport). “This legislation is a bold solution for a big problem and will provide water for future generations.”

“Our community’s water supply is far too important of an issue to put off,” said State Representative Larry Walsh Jr. (D-Elwood). “By allowing neighboring cities to work together, we can share the costs to ensure the best deal for taxpayers.”

The legislation builds on the administration’s efforts to provide clean drinking water to  communities across the state. Earlier this month, the Governor implemented the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) to help residents avoid shutoffs who are unable to pay their water and sewer bills.

Senate Bill 280 is effective immediately.