The protection of the local water supply will be strengthened under legislation sponsored by State Sen. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) and passed by the Senate Nov. 28.
Senate Bill 3549 will give, for the first time, full jurisdictional authority to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) to regulate natural gas pipelines and storage facilities above the Mahomet Aquifer, and more importantly, enforce actions and complaints against the operators who fail to protect water supplies
“Protecting our local water is a top priority,” Rose said. “I am excited that for the first time, we now have given IDNR not just the ability to regulate but enforce complaints against these operators. We can and will always do more to protect our local drinking water, but this is an important step forward for those who receive their drinking water from the Mahomet Aquifer. Further, this prevents the State of Illinois from losing critical federal dollars for inspections that would have happened if we failed to pass this legislation.”
It was discovered in 2016 that an underground natural gas leak of a storage facility owned and operated by Peoples Gas tainted the drinking water for several people in rural Champaign County. The Mahomet Aquifer is the primary source of drinking water for 500,000 Central Illinois residents, providing 53 million gallons of water per year to 120 public water systems and helping supply water for rural wells.
The Illinois House also passed the legislation Nov. 28. It now heads to Gov. Bruce Rauner for his signature.