Sens. Fine, Simmons, Ellman and Johnson

SPRINGFIELD – Access to clean drinking water is often taken for granted. In reality, a number of chemicals and bacteria are tainting water across the state. Members of the Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus are leading a number of measures to enhance water quality – calling it “the year of water.”

State Senator Laura Ellman (D-Naperville) – who chairs the Senate Environment and Conservation Committee – kicked off a press conference on water quality Wednesday by outlining her plan to identify critical water issues throughout the state.

The State Water Plan Task Force would be required to publish a State Water Plan at least every 10 years and maintain a publicly available website. Under Senate Bill 2743, the task force would develop recommendations, and assist state and local authorities in the implementation of those recommendations.

“This task force is part of an ongoing, statewide effort to guarantee the safety and health of our environment for future generations,” said Ellman. “The partnership among state agencies in this task force ensures collaboration for true conservation of water, which creates a lasting impact on the protections for our state’s natural resources.”

Per-and polyfluoradlkyl substances, frequently called PFAS, are a group of man-made harsh chemicals manufactured for oil and water resistant properties. Many Illinois manufacturers utilize the production of PFAS, resulting in the risk of contaminating water supplies throughout the state.

Previously State Senator Laura Fine (D-Glenview) worked to phase out PFAS chemicals in firefighting foam – and is taking that a step further this year through Senate Bill 2705.

The measure would ban the sale and distribution of products such as carpets, cookware, food packaging and more containing intentionally added PFAS starting in 2025. By 2032, all products with PFAS, unless it is proven it cannot be made without it, would be banned.

Intentionally added means that PFAS is deliberately added during the manufacture of a product or reasonably anticipated to be present.

"The ongoing use of products containing PFAS needs to end with all consumer goods before it creates additional long-term, adverse effects," said Fine. "Consumers may be unaware their products contain hazardous substances that pose potentially harmful health risks. We cannot afford to expose our families, friends, and environment to this toxicity.” 

With a district that includes many communities on the shore of Lake Michigan, State Senator Adriane Johnson (D-Buffalo Grove) has remained a steadfast advocate to ensure the water – and its shores – are safe.

Senate Bill 3716 would ensure that the IEPA is regularly monitoring water quality from nearshores, harbors and public water supply intakes in Lake Michigan. Under Johnson’s measure, the IEPA would be required to provide an executive summary every two years on conditions of the water quality in Lake Michigan to the governor and General Assembly.

“Access to clean and safe water is crucial to public health,” said Johnson. “Preserving water resources ensures that future generations have access to the water they need for economic prosperity without compromising the environment.”

Acknowledging that clean drinking water should be a right, not a privilege, State Senator Mike Simmons (D-Chicago) is spearheading Senate Bill 3450.

The measure would direct the Illinois Department of Public Health to work with the Pollution Control Board to update the primary drinking water standards to establish maximum contamination levels for PFAS and other pollutants that might be found in public drinking water.

“I am proud to be carrying Senate Bill 3450, which will put us on a path to establishing limits on maximum contaminant levels and other toxic chemicals in public drinking water supplies that are known to be hazardous to human health,” said Simmons. “I am excited to champion this legislation and work with my colleagues who also recognize the importance of protecting our water supplies and waterways for us now and for generations to come.”

In the coming months, members of the Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus hope to pass the measures.

Water Safety Fact Sheet