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State Loaning City $15M For Water Main Repairs

dellimore250 Craig Dellimore
Craig Dellimore, political editor for WBBM, joined the station in 1983...
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CHICAGO (CBS) – Gov. Pat Quinn said Wednesday he wants cities across the state to take advantage of the $1 billion Illinois Clean Water Initiative.

WBBM Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports the city of Chicago already has received the first money from the fund.

The governor and Mayor Rahm Emanuel were all smiles, standing with organized labor leaders at Plumbers Hall, for a joint announcement that the Clean Water Initiative has loaned the city $15 million to help repair and replace deteriorating water mains.

Why would the city, which has its own bonding authority, borrow from the state? Emanuel said the interest rate on the loan is lower, and helps Chicago do more.

The mayor and City Council have already approved plans to double the city’s water rates by 2015 to pay for replacement of water mains. He said 72 miles of water mains were replaced last year, but there were still about 3,000 water main breaks.

“While we have done what we’re supposed to do on our own, I want to do it faster, I want to do more,” he said. “There’s more work that needs to be done.”

The loan from the state should pay for replacement of about seven miles of water pipes.

Quinn noted the water mains to be replaced date back several decades, “some of which were constructed when Ulysses S. Grant was president of the United States, one year before the Great Chicago Fire.”

The unions are happy with the initiative, because it is expected to create more than 28,000 jobs.