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updated: 10/18/2012 4:13 PM

Illinois to launch $1 billion in water projects

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Associated Press

Illinois officials are poised to launch $1 billion in statewide projects to improve water quality and fix outdated infrastructure such as wastewater treatment plants and sewers.

The entire initiative, which Gov. Pat Quinn previewed earlier this year in his State of the State address, is estimated to create about 28,500 jobs in Illinois, officials announced Thursday.

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The money will be distributed through low-interest and long-term loans to local governments and comes from a state program backed by federal money. State officials said that no new state money will be used for the projects.

The initiative also would clean up Illinois rivers and lakes.

"Illinois is defined geographically and historically by waterways," Quinn said in a statement. "Our Clean Water Initiative will put thousands of Illinoisans back to work, protect and improve our drinking water, and preserve this precious, irreplaceable resource for future generations."

He announced the details Thursday at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium with Lisa Jackson, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

State environmental officials said more than 350 local governments have expressed interest in improving their water systems. To be a part of the program, they'll have to send applications to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

Projects are expected to begin next year, officials said.

Quinn said the jobs include more than 9,000 in construction, more than 4,500 in supplying industries such as mining and the rest in related industries.

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