Bill to safeguard aquifer awaits Rauner's OK

SPRINGFIELD — It's been two years since a natural gas leak was discovered near the Mahomet Aquifer.

In June, the Mahomet Aquifer Protection Task Force met with officials from the state's Environmental Protection Agency and Oil and Gas Resource Management office.

Mike Mankowski, director of the state's Oil and Gas Resource Management office, shared federal rules and regulations for underground natural gas storage and stressed Illinois needed stricter regulations and room for more monitoring of the 1,186 underground gas storage wells in the state.

Last week, legislation (Senate Bill 3549) granting the Illinois Department of Natural Resources full authority to regulate all natural gas pipelines and storage facilities above the Mahomet Aquifer passed both the state's Senate and House and now awaits Gov. Bruce Rauner's signature.

The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, also allows IDNR to enforce any actions and/or complaints against the aquifer's operators.

"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."

The Mahomet Aquifer is a large source of drinking water for central Illinois. More than 500,000 residents rely on the aquifer, which produces 53 million gallons of water each year to 120 area public water systems and assists water supply for area rural wells.

"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," Rose added.

"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."

Location (2):Springfield, State

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