SPRINGFIELD – Acknowledging that access to clean drinking water is often taken for granted, State Senator Mike Simmons advanced legislation to enhance and protect the safety of public drinking water statewide.

“Clean drinking water is a human right, and we need to ensure Illinois’s drinking water is safe and free of harmful chemicals,” said Simmons (D-Chicago). “The presence of these contaminants requires renewed attention and urgent action.”

Simmons' proactive measure comes in response to the growing recognition of environmental pollutants and their potential health effects. Senate Bill 727 preemptively codifies at the state level the new federal rules issued by the US Environmental Protection Agency on April 10th, 2024 that will set maximum contaminant levels on six Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (also known as PFAs).

Simmons legislation also directs the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to work with the Pollution Control Board (PCB) to update primary drinking water standards to establish new limits on maximum contamination levels for (PFAS), also known as “forever chemicals,” and additional pollutants that are found in public drinking water. The legislation also requires the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to convene a stakeholder group with environmental grassroots organizations within a year to identify any additional contaminants or chemicals that need regulating at the state level.

These PFAS, a group of synthetic chemicals, have garnered recent attention because they’ve been found in our water supplies and other materials, doing harm to the environment and causing adverse health effects associated with long-term exposure. By tasking the IDPH and PCB with the responsibility of updating primary drinking water standards, Senate Bill 727 will ensure that drinking water in Illinois remains safe and free from harmful contaminants.

“The safety of our public drinking water supplies is paramount to the health and well-being of our communities,” said Simmons. “I am excited to champion this legislation prioritizing safe, accessible water quality for everyone.”

Simmons’ measure is part of a group of initiatives aimed to enhance water quality in Illinois. The H2024 initiatives create long-term solutions to longstanding environmental issues across the state. Read more about the package of bills here.

Senate Bill 727 passed the Senate Thursday and now heads to the House for further consideration.