CHICAGO — A new report from civil engineers has concluded on Illinois’ infrastructure system.
The Illinois American Society of Civil Engineers unveiled the state’s 2022 Infrastructure Report Card Thursday at Union Station. The report card comes out once every four years.
This year, Illinois received a ‘C-‘ minus grade, precisely what it was four years ago in 2018 and four years before that in 2014.
So are improvements being made?
Engineers point to progress in state dams and inland waterways, but Illinois’ drinking water infrastructure grade is declining.
WGN News learned that the state’s groundwater resources are becoming depleted and the number of community water systems in violation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency compliance systems is up significantly.
All told, 86% of the 444 community water supplies across Illinois violated those EPA programs through 2019. While it doesn’t mean state water is unsafe, it shows it’s not the absolute best it could be.
However, officials told WGN News that 4% of those community supplies violated treatment techniques meaning there’s been an issue related to water cleaning, such as the addition of chlorine.
But it gets worse.
Ten percent of those supply systems across the state through 2019 violated maximum contaminant levels, meaning there was something in the water that could potentially harm us.
Those speaking Thursday pushed the importance of addressing Illinois’ drinking water moving forward.
“In drinking water, we highlight the lead problem, the lead service line problem, that is a major safety issue we are concerned about with our citizens who have lead service lines,” civil engineer Patrick Lach said.
“We are committed to working with our elected leaders and agency officials to identify solutions to make our infrastructure safe and remain a priority,” said ASCE Illinois president Andrew Walton.
According to the CDC, between 2015 and 2018, 83 people in Illinois became ill due to drinking water. Fifty people were hospitalized across the state during that time. Of those 50 hospitalized, 16 people died in those years in Illinois from something related to lead water.