Protecting clean water in Illinois is essential to community, economic and ecosystem health.
Threats To Our Water
Current Clean Water Laws
Existing clean water laws should be fully implemented, enforced and adequate public access to decision making processes should be provided. Several changes to Illinois laws, policy and regulations regarding water resources are required to increase the ability of affected citizens to enforce the law, to ensure that regulatory agencies have robust and aggressive inspection and enforcement programs and policies with meaningful consequences for illegal polluters, and to increase public access and availability of pollution and permitting data.
The primary federal law governing water pollution, with the objective of restoring and maintaining the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation’s waters by preventing pollution, providing for the improvement of wastewater treatment, and maintaining the integrity of wetlands. Under the CWA, states have the “primary responsibilities and rights” to achieve the Act’s objectives.
With regards to point sources of water pollution discharges, the EPA determines discharge levels, issues and enforces permits, oversees a state’s program administration, and will take over if it determines that the state is underperforming.
The EPA establishes criteria for water quality, which is presumptively binding on states, each of which may establish designated water uses as long as the use doesn’t interfere with the attainment of downstream water quality.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund is a federal program designed to receive a small percentage of offshore oil and gas fee revenues to protect our nation’s important lands and waters. The program is authorized to receive up to $900 million per year, but despite a growing energy economy, funding for land and water protection has been low and these promised funds have been diverted elsewhere. Since its creation, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has provided approximately $213 million dollars to Illinois for the protection of places such as Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge.
Passed in 2010, this Illinois law prohibits landscapers from applying fertilizer containing phosphorus to a lawn, except where the soil is lacking in phosphorus when compared against a standard established by the University of Illinois.
The law also restricts the ability of a landscaper to apply fertilizer on impervious surfaces, near bodies of water (3 to 15 feet), or when a lawn is frozen or saturated. The law exempts agriculture, commercial or sod farms, gardening, and golf courses.
Section 52.5 of the Illinois Environmental Protection Act prohibits the production, manufacture, distribution and sale in Illinois of any personal care product containing plastic particles less than 5 millimeters in size. When consumers use personal care products such as facial scrubs and toothpaste containing microbeads, the beads are rinsed down the drain and into our sewer systems. Because of their small size and buoyancy, microbeads escape treatment by sewage plants and are discharged into rivers, lakes and oceans. These microbeads then absorb toxic chemicals which can be eaten by fish and wildlife.
Clean Water Updates
Breaking Free from Foam: How Illinois and Chicago Can Reduce Plastic Waste
Illinois needs to break up with plastic. For decades, we’ve known that single-use plastic items, including polystyrene foam cups, plates, and containers are among the...Read More >>
2023 Environmental Legislative Update, March 28
2023 Environmental Legislative Update, March 10
Illinois’ 2023 Enviro Legislative Priorities
See the top environmental bills being considered by the Illinois General Assembly this year.Read More >>
2023 Chicago Environmental Mayor Report
From clean energy to transportation to urban conservation, IEC’s Mayoral Report lays out both small & lofty objectives that the mayor ought to tackle to...Read More >>