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$15M loan to help Chicago replace aging pipelines

The city of Chicago is getting a $15 million low-interest loan to help replace aging drinking-water mains and pipes.

Gov. Pat Quinn and Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Wednesday that Chicago will receive the loan from the state's $1 billion Illinois Clean Water Initiative. That program helps local governments overhaul aging water and sewer plants and replace outdated pipelines.

Quinn says updating the water lines has been long overdue.

“We’ve got water mains in this city that are very, very old,” Quinn said. “Some of which were constructed when Ulysses S. Grant was president of the United States.”

Chicago will use the money to replace about seven miles of drinking water pipes, some of which are more than 100 years old. Frequent water-main ruptures have caused water outages, basement flooding and even a sinkhole that an SUV fell into in 2011.

Emanuel says additional funding will help accelerate the rebuilding process.

“We would just band aid our approach... we didn’t do anything about preparing for the future,” Emanuel said. “This allows us to do exactly what we need to do.”

Officials say Chicago's project will support hundreds of jobs. Emanuel says the city has a goal of replacing 88 miles of water mains each year for the next decade.

Angelica Robinson contributed to this report.

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