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June 26, 2000


SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced that Illinois FIRST is helping to secure a low interest loan of nearly $3.6 million for the city of DeKalb to help the city remove excessive amounts of naturally occurring radiation from the city's drinking water. "A safe and reliable drinking water supply is an important part of a community's overall quality of life," Ryan said. "Without Illinois FIRST, the state simply would not be able to provide that assistance that many communities need to maintain and improve their critical infrastructure."

The loan in the amount of $3,586,115 will finance construction of three water treatment plants that will remove naturally occurring radioactivity from six wells and iron removal treatment for three of them.

A similar low interest loan for more than $4 million was awarded to the city last October as Phase I of a comprehensive overall project to remove radionuclides and iron from DeKalb's water. The earlier loan to DeKalb was to construct two other water treatment plants.

The loans were made from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency's drinking water revolving loan program. The governor's Illinois FIRST program guarantees full funding of IEPA's loan programs through fiscal year 2004. The revolving loan programs utilize federal and state funding to make loans at half the bond market interest rate. Interest paid on the 20 year loans is returned to the fund to support other low interest loans.

Levels of naturally occurring radiation in the groundwater that is the source of DeKalb's drinking water has been a long time problem for the community. Long time exposure to high levels of ingested radiation has been linked to bone and sinus cancers. The current federally established maximum contaminant level for radionuclides in drinking is now under review by U.S. EPA.


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