Ill. Governor Signs Contamination Right-to-Know Bill

Governor Pat Quinn on Aug. 23 signed a bill to help ensure Illinois citizens have safe drinking water and prevent future incidents like the water contamination discovered earlier this year in Crestwood.

“The people of Illinois have a right to know when their water could be contaminated,” said Quinn. “This bill helps prevent terrible incidents like what happened in Crestwood from happening again.”

House Bill 4021, sponsored by Rep. Frank Mautino (D-Spring Valley) and Sen. Susan Garrett (D-Lake Forest), requires that all users of a community water supply be notified when water is contaminated or there is a threat of contamination. Current Illinois law only requires the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) to notify water supply owners and operators of contamination. The bill also establishes a monetary penalty and makes providing false information to environmental enforcement officials a felony under state law.

“A safe drinking water supply is absolutely critical to the health of the people of Illinois,” said Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who helped draft the legislation. “This law requires notification to ensure that people have timely information about their water in order to protect themselves.”

Last April, IEPA discovered that millions of gallons of water tainted with vinyl chloride were allegedly pumped into homes in Crestwood. Vinyl chloride has been linked to cancer and liver damage and is created by the breakdown of perchloroethylene, a solvent used for dry-cleaning.

Crestwood officials allegedly told residents and regulators that the village supplied only treated Lake Michigan water to residents and businesses-owners. However, records show that the village continued using the contaminated well to supplement the water supply until 2007, over 20 years after the IEPA told village officials it was contaminated. The well has since been shut off and capped.

Quinn was joined by Doug Scott, IEPA director; Jack Darin, director, Sierra Club - Illinois Chapter; and Rep. Robert Rita (D-Chicago).

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