Illinois General Assembly approves bill to modernize state's plumbing code to promote water conservation, safety - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Illinois General Assembly approves bill to modernize state's plumbing code to promote water conservation, safety

Ill. House Bill 4496, which sets a deadline for the Ill. Dept. of Public Health to update the state’s plumbing code to be more consistent with leading technologies and methods that promote water conservation and safety, was approved today by the Illinois Senate. The Illinois House of Representatives approved the bill on March 27; the next step is for Gov. Pat Quinn to sign this bill into law. 

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Carol Sente (D-Lincolnshire) and Sen. Susan Garrett (D-Highwood), begins the important process of updating the code and sets a deadline for the completion: By May 31, 2013, the Ill. Dept. of Public Health must submit proposed rules changes to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules. 

Many stakeholders – including the pipe trades, architects, public works officials, environmental advocates, and planning advocates including the nonprofit Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) and Openlands – will be involved in the process of updating the plumbing code. The update could address issues including, but not limited to, the following: 

  • minimum safety standards for gray water reuse;
  • sub-metering in new multi-unit buildings;
  • improved efficiency standards; and
  • rainwater harvesting for reuse.

For several years, MPC, Openlands and other partners have been advocating to update the Illinois Plumbing Code to allow for rainwater harvesting for non-potable reuse, such as flushing toilets. Currently, no statewide minimum safety standards exist for rainwater harvesting systems, which forces property owners and developers who want to save water by installing such systems to seek variances from their local municipalities. This advocacy effort helped open the door to a more comprehensive update of the state’s plumbing code. 

“When we ‘opened up the hood’ on the state’s plumbing code to examine the potential for statewide rainwater harvesting, Rep. Sente wisely suggested that we ‘fix the whole engine,’” said MPC Program Director Josh Ellis. “The Metropolitan Planning Council is eager to begin work on updating the plumbing code, along with a host of stakeholders, because we know that these changes can save a lot of water, encourage responsible water reuse, and reduce strain on our aging water infrastructure.”

For more information, please contact Josh Ellis, MPC Program Director, at jellis@metroplanning.org or 312-863-6045; or Lenore Beyer-Clow, Openlands Policy Director, at lbeyer-clow@openlands.org or 312-863-6264.

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