May 18, 2018

Illinois Veterans Home Switches to Groundwater Following Legionella Outbreak

Gov. Bruce Rauner says groundwater will be a safer water source than treated Mississippi River water and hopefully hinder Legionella bacteria

Illinois Veterans Home to use groundwater after Legionnaires' outbreak
Illinois Veterans Home to use groundwater after Legionnaires' outbreak

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner announced a partnership between the state of Illinois and the city of Quincy, Ill., to build a new water well for the city. The city will replace the current water treatment plant, which draws water from the Mississippi River, with a groundwater system. This decision comes in light of recent deadly outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease at the Illinois Veterans Home, largely attributed to aging infrastructure.

“Groundwater has the benefit of being cooler and the benefit of being filtered through sand,” Rauner said. “Cooler temperatures keep organisms from being able to grow readily so it tends to be cleaner safer water.”

The Illinois Protection Agency will provide $3 million in funding and the Quincy City Council will provide an additional $3 million, with the a projected timeline of approximately a year. Construction will begin this summer, according to WGEM.

“This has become a priority to the state, given the challenges of making sure we have clean, safe water for our veterans at the Quincy veterans home,” Rauner said.

Repeated outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease at the Illinois Veterans Home resulted in the death of 13 residents, the illness of more than 60 residents and employees, and 11 lawsuits against the state for negligence. In January, Gov. Rauner stayed at the Veterans home for a week and announced plans to provide major upgrades to the water system, which had already undergone extensive water treatment upgrades to no avail.

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