Bill seeking to raise aquifer protection passes House

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) – A bill responding to a gas leak above the Mahomet Aquifer only needs Gov. Bruce Rauner’s signature.

The legislation mandates that leaks be reported right away by companies operating natural gas storage areas that are placed underground and above a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-designated sole-source aquifers. In December 2016, a natural gas well owned by Peoples Gas leaked and contaminated drinking water for five homes in the Mahomet area.

State Sen. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) called the leak “inexcusable” and has since created the bill to spark change. The Illinois House just approved the measure, according to a press release sent by Communications and Public Affairs official Andrew Hansen of the Illinois Senate Republican Caucus.

“It’s unfortunate we had to pass the same bill unanimously twice in the Senate in order to get the House to do the right thing,” Rose said. “Thankfully, this time, with Rep. (Carol) Ammons’ help, we got it done.”

Gas companies will be required to make sure the public, area officials, emergency management leaders and water operators are aware of a problem if there is one. The bill also demands inspections, which a gas company would have to pay for, of gas storage facilities above the Mahomet Aquifer by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources each year.

The Mahomet Aquifer Task Force, which includes Sen. Rose, is expected to meet Friday in Monticello to talk about safety around the Mahomet Aquifer.

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