Support SB 38 to allow rainwater harvesting in Illinois
- By Barrington Mayor Karen Darch
- April 28, 2011
For the past two years, I’ve supported legislation that calls for updating Illinois’ plumbing code to allow rainwater harvesting for non-potable (non-drinking) uses, such as flushing toilets or coolant systems. It just makes sense for Illinois to have what many other states do: a modern, green plumbing code that permits capturing and using rainwater in indoor systems.
Putting our rainwater to use helps conserve our limited water supply, as every gallon of rain we use is a gallon of water from a finite source that we preserve for the future. Capturing rain also will help reduce stormwater runoff and send less water through our sewers, preventing flooding and sewer system overflows during storm events. And, residents, businesses and communities that want to incorporate water-saving technologies into new or retro-fitted buildings—which is becoming more and more mainstream— shouldn’t have to recreate the wheel each time through an onerous permitting process.
For all these reasons, I’ve added my voice to others who are calling on Springfield legislators to support Senate Bill 38, simple legislation that directs Illinois’ Dept. of Public Health (IDPH) to modernize our state’s plumbing code to allow use of rainwater in indoor systems by 2012. Other states have moved forward with establishing guidelines and “greening up” standards, it shouldn’t take years to do the same here in Illinois! Not when citizens, business leaders, civic organizations, the development community, tradesmen, local governments, state agencies, environmentalists, and elected officials all agree that something as sensible as catching rain and storing it for use in toilets should be on our books.
Fortunately, Illinois senators heard us loud and clear. They understood that SB 38, rainwater harvesting legislation introduced this year, would provide Illinoisans a new tool for sustainable water resource management. They promptly passed the bill—unanimously—on Feb. 17 and sent it over to the House for consideration.
Now it's the House’s turn to take up and pass SB 38. Our state representatives should hear from us that SB 38 allows greater opportunity to protect our finite water supply for future generations, and helps address growing concerns regarding stormwater management and the environment. They need to know that common sense conservation tactics such as reusing rainwater for non-potable purposes are essentially illegal in Illinois, since our current code doesn’t regulate for it. They need to vote in support of SB 38 and direct IDPH to get to work on a green supplement to our current plumbing code.
Let’s get Rainwater Harvesting legislation passed in 2011 and rainwater re-use in practice in 2012. Please join me and others in support of SB 38.