Durbin Secures Illinois Priorities In Senate's Committee Passed Water Resources Development Act

The bill, which includes provisions on Brandon Road, Quincy Bay, and Cahokia Heights, was passed out of Committee unanimously this week

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), a member of the Environmental Justice Caucus, today announced that the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) advanced the Water Resources Development Act of 2024 (WRDA) out of Committee with several key provisions he secured for Illinois.  These provisions – ranging from adjusting the cost share for the Brandon Road Project to improving water infrastructure in Cahokia Heights, Illinois – aim to accelerate and fund major infrastructure projects across the state while bringing environmental justice to marginalized communities. 

“This year’s Water Resources Development Act is chock-full of funding for water infrastructure projects in Illinois.  This legislation will help modernize dilapidated infrastructure, protect lands prone to dangerous flooding, and take the burden off the State of Illinois to financially support the Brandon Road Project so that we can protect our valuable Great Lakes,” said Durbin.  “I’m encouraged by the bill passing out of Committee with such strong bipartisan support.  I hope that my colleagues will see the value in the provisions I’ve included in the bill as they consider their vote on the Senate floor.”

Key Durbin priorities included in this year’s WRDA include:


Brandon Road.  The bill changes the cost share for operations and maintenance of the Brandon Road project to be 90 percent federal and 10 percent state.  The Brandon Road Project will construct a new engineered channel at Brandon Road in Joliet, Illinois, that will be used to test and deploy a range of technologies that will prevent invasive Carp from moving further north to the Great Lakes.  To date, Durbin has secured $272 million for the Brandon Road project, including $225.2 million for construction in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and $47.3 million in the Fiscal Year 2023 government funding bill.

Quincy Bay.  The bill includes language to expediate the Quincy Bay Restoration Project, which aims to reverse the impact of sedimentation and erosion at Quincy Bay to improve the quality and diversity of waterfowl, fish, and wildlife populations, aquatic and forest habitat, and other ecologically significant features such as water depth and wetlands.

East St. Louis Reevaluation Report.  The bill includes language for a general reevaluation report for the Illinois Ecosystem Restoration and Flood Damage Reduction Project for East St. Louis and the surrounding vicinity.  This report will help begin to address flooding in this region.

Upper Mississippi River System Floodplain Study.  Durbin requested a long-term study to improve flood conveyance in the Upper Mississippi System.  The bill expedites watershed assessments for the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers authorized in 2016 and 2020. 

Inland Waterway Projects.  The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funded seven inland waterways construction projects, including the modernization of Illinois locks and dams through the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP), but due to significant cost overruns, the existing funds will not be enough to complete any of the projects.  Durbin secured a provision to keep existing work on these seven projects at a 100 percent federal cost share and improves the cost share for all other inland waterway projects to a 75 percent federal and 25 percent state cost share, beginning on October 1, 2024. 

Section 219, Environmental Infrastructure Changes:

  • Madison and St. Clair Counties (Cahokia Heights).  The bill includes Durbin’s request to allow stormwater management to be part of the scope of existing water and wastewater infrastructure assistance.  The bill increases the authorization from $100 million to $110 million.
  • Calumet City.  The bill includes Durbin’s request for a $10 million authorization for the City to address an outdated and inefficient water system, including improvements to detention basins and pump stations.  Detention basin improvements will consist of erosion and bank stabilization, native and sustainable plantings in the bottom of the basins, capacity expansion, and maintenance operation needs at storm sewer connections. 
  • Central Illinois Communities.  The bill includes Durbin’s request to expand Section 219 authority for Montgomery County, Christian County, Fayette County, Shelby County, Jasper County, Richland County, Crawford County, and Lawrence County.  These communities are all struggling from aging drinking water infrastructure and have limited groundwater resources available, and it will assist them in updating their water systems.
  • Grundy County.  The bill includes Durbin’s request to expand authorization for a drinking water project in Grundy County.  These communities get their water supply from deep groundwater wells that will begin to fail by 2030.  This authorization can assist Grundy Count in securing a supply of treated Lake Michigan water from the City of Chicago.  

Update Federal Reservoir Water Supply Agreements.  The bill includes Durbin’s request to modify federal agreements for Rend Lake, Carlyle Lake, and Lake Shelbyville to remove the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) as the liaison between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and local water suppliers. This will reduce the State of Illinois’ financial obligations for the federal reservoirs, and the State will no longer need to pay the percentage of the annual operation and maintenance expense, the percentage of major replacement cost, and the percentage of major rehabilitation cost it had been covering. 

Fox River Illinois River Basin Restoration.  The bill includes Durbin’s language reauthorizing the program, which expired in 2010, and the language extends it to run through 2029.

Butterfield Creek Tributary Feasibility Study.  The bill includes Durbin’s request to conduct a study on the flooding and conduct a course of action to address the issue in the villages of Flossmoor, Matteson, Park Forest, and Richton Park.  These communities have struggled with frequent flooding along the creek, impacting homes and roads. 

Requests for the Corps to Update Technology.  The bill includes Durbin’s request to conduct a review for the Corps to modernize the civil works program through the use of technology, including using resources available at National Laboratories.

Project Partnership Agreements (PPA) with the Corps.  The bill includes a study of the implications of the indemnification clause in PPAs and the impact of indemnification clauses on state laws with a report back that will be sent to the Committee within one year.