New federal legislation will provide relief to old and crumbling dams in Illinois, according to U.S. Sen. Mark S. Kirk (R-Ill.). The Water Resources Reform and Development Act is waiting for the president’s signature after being passed by large margins in both houses of Congress. Kirk says he was convinced of the urgency of upgrading the state’s water infrastructure when he asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers how many locks and dams in Illinois were in need of repair.
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“Twenty-eight out of 28,” Kirk said he was told. So how did it get to that point? “A lot of the infrastructure was built in the late 30s, and wasn’t adequately maintained by the federal government,” Kirk said. Dams along the Mississippi River are in the greatest state of disrepair, according to Kirk. To speed up the upgrade process, the bill allows more freedom for private companies to invest in infrastructure repairs, rather than waiting on the Corps of Engineers to work its way through its backlog of projects.