From Lake Michigan to the Mississippi and the rivers in between, Illinois is surround by water.
Gov. Pat Quinn signed three bills Wednesday that aim to protect that resource and improve the state's environment and water systems.
"We're very, very lucky in Illinois to have such abundant water resources. But it's our duty to protect our water," said Quinn. "We have to remember what Mark Twain said some time ago -- about 100 years ago -- he said that "whiskey's for drinking, and water's worth fighting for."
House Bill 248 will allow recycled, treated waste water to be used for non-consumption purposes such as watering golf courses. House Bills 2056 and 3090 will improve pharmaceutical collection and disposal systems.
"We don't want those pharmaceuticals disposed of in an improper way. If they’re just thrown down the toilet, or in the garbage, they can end up in our water supply," Quinn said.
Several recent studies detected pharmaceutical drugs, such as Prozac and anti-depressants, and even insecticides in our drinking water.
To help in the effort, students in both Antioch and Pontiac created the Prescription Drug Disposal Program, or P2D2.
"It was created as an environment intent, but House Bill 2056, turned out to be so much more," said Rep. Joann Osmond (R-Antioch), who sponsored House Bill 2056. As a result, new disposal containers will be provided at local pharmacies to toss out old and unused prescriptions.
But Wednesday's bill-signing is just one step in the effort to preserve Illinois' drinking water.
"These new laws are a great step forward for Illinois to begin to address pharmaceutical pollutants in our water. Few laws exist to control emerging contaminants like pharmaceuticals. To address this problem, we need more research into the effects of this kind of pollution, new water treatment technologies, marketplace behavior changes and policy reforms” adds Lyman Welch of the Alliance for the Great Lakes.