Illinois House Passes Bill to Help Stop Costly Flooding and Save Communities Money

The Illinois House of Representatives passed a bill last week that will give counties and municipalities more flexibility in using green infrastructure to address costly flooding problems for businesses and homeowners. HB 3372 would allow counties to establish systems that encourage the use of green infrastructure—using trees, green roofs, porous pavement and other techniques to filter rainwater—on private and public property. The bill would also allow counties to adopt a schedule of fees—after a referendum— to provide a dedicated revenue source to pay for ongoing stormwater management services and activities.

Stormwater runoff from the built environment is a principle contributor to local basement and street flooding, as well as pollution of Illinois’ water bodies. Green infrastructure is a proven method for addressing stormwater runoff that is cheaper and faster to implement than conventional grey infrastructure.

Current state regulations impose significant requirements on urban counties to reduce stormwater runoff volume and its pollutants. Under existing Illinois law, however, these counties must pay the state a stormwater permit fee but receive no financial assistance, and they have limited resources to effectively reduce stormwater volume and pollution. Additionally, counties have a backlog of needed water infrastructure maintenance and upgrades due to the long-term failure to address these “out-of-sight” problems. HB 3372 would give counties the tools they need to manage stormwater and encourage cost-effective green infrastructure practices.

The bill, which passed by a 73 to 43 vote, is sponsored by Rep. Mike Fortner, with co-sponsors Reps. Barbara Flynn Currie, Lisa Dugan, Robyn Gabel, Karen May, Rita Mayfield, Elaine Nekritz, Cynthia Soto, Mike Tryon and Dave Winters. CNT is grateful to these legislators who have exercised their leadership to ensure our counties’ and municipalities’ fiscal health, while supporting cost-effective, sustainable stormwater infrastructure. The bill now goes to the Illinois Senate for approval.