Legislation co-sponsored by State Sen. Chapin Rose that helps ensure quality, clean drinking water for people in Central Illinois passed the Senate May 2.
Senate Bill 611 creates the Mahomet Aquifer Protection Task Force, which would study the issue of maintaining clean drinking water for the 500,000 Central Illinois residents who receive their water from the Mahomet Aquifer.
“We have made tremendous progress on the issue of protecting the Mahomet Aquifer over the past several years, but more can be done,” Rose said. “This Task Force is another tool to ensure protection of our water supply for generations to come.”
Senate Bill 611, which now heads to the House for consideration, requires the Mahomet Aquifer Task Force to:
· Develop a state plan to maintain the groundwater quality of the Mahomet Aquifer;
· Identify potential and current contamination threats to the water quality of the Mahomet Aquifer;
· Identify actions that might be taken to ensure the long-term protection of the Mahomet Aquifer;
· Make legislative recommendations for future protection of the Mahomet Aquifer.
“We must continue to stay proactive on this issue,” Rose said. “The Mahomet Aquifer is an invaluable resource for hundreds of thousands of people. Protecting it now and for the future is of the essence. I am pleased that after years of threats and attacks on the Mahomet Aquifer, we continue to make more and more progress ensuring clean drinking water for our citizens.”
The task force will report its finding and solutions to the General Assembly by July 1, 2018.
The Mahomet Aquifer:
- Is the primary source of water for 14 counties in Central Illinois;
- Provides 53 million gallons of water per year for 120 public water systems;
- Supplies thousands of rural wells.
In 2016, working with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), Rose secured a commitment by the IEPA to perform enhanced monitoring that will further protect the Mahomet Aquifer. The IEPA, at Rose’s request, also created a statewide directory of landfills, active and inactive, which is posted on the agency’s website.
In 2015, Rose led efforts at the Statehouse passing a law subjecting remediation waste to rigorous scientific testing to ensure that toxic wastes would not be deposited in the Clinton Landfill, which sits on top of the water supply.
For years prior, the Mahomet Aquifer was under threat of having toxic PCBs placed above it in the Clinton landfill. In 2014, the IEPA modified the landfill’s permit by blocking the use of a chemical waste unit for the disposal of federally-regulated manufactured gas plant and polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) waste. This was a reversal of the IEPA’s earlier position that granted the landfill the right to store toxic waste above the water supply. The IEPA’s action to modify the landfill’s permit came about after years of coordinated work between community groups, local officials, and local legislators, including Rose, which forced the IEPA to do the right thing and protect the water.