State Senator Pushes Water Quality Bill
By Kara Spak Daily Herald Staff Writer
If you doubt state
Sen. Pam Althoff's commitment to water quality, turn on your radio
instead of your faucet.
In recent weeks a radio ad, sponsored by the Underground Contractor's
Association and Excavators Inc., features the Republican senator from
Crystal Lake urging constituents to press the federal House of
Representatives bill 1560, dubbed the water quality financing act of
If that bill became law, communities throughout the country would be
eligible for matching federal grants for the expensive but often
necessary replacement of aging water mains and wastewater pipes.
Though it's unusual for a state legislator to record such a commercial,
Althoff said she is just that passionate about finding money to help
fund necessary water system infrastructure improvements in towns like
Hebron, Johnsburg, Richmond and McHenry. Althoff served as mayor of
McHenry before being appointed to fill the senate seat vacated by Dick
Klemm, who stepped down after being diagnosed with cancer.
"People assume when they turn on their faucets that water is going to
come out," she said. "Our water systems are extremely vulnerable. What
this does for me is it gives me an entrance and opportunity to explain
Althoff said she knew individuals from both trade groups from her time
as McHenry's mayor and from her work with the Fox River Waterway Agency,
the group that deals with Fox River issues north of the Algonquin dam
and south of the Chain O' Lakes. The trade groups asked her to create
Althoff Industries, the Crystal Lake family business that her late
husband served as vice president of, would not benefit from the House
bill because the company deals with pipes in buildings, not
infrastructure, she said.
"Does Althoff Industry know some of these people? Absolutely," she said.
"Does it benefit? No."
Who it will benefit, she said, are all McHenry residents living in areas
with crumbling pipelines. She estimated that replacing mains in just
five McHenry County towns could cost more than $39 million, with small
communities like Johnsburg and Hebron paying $12śmillion and $9 million,
"I don't think it's uncommon," Althoff said of her work with the federal
bill. "In the five months I've been down in Springfield, most
legislators choose to get involved in issues on a federal level."
Jack Franks, a popular Woodstock Democrat representing the 63rd district
in the Illinois House, said he had not heard of a sitting legislator
making such an ad before. But as long as Althoff declares it as a
campaign contribution, he said it might be an effective way to fight the
massive advertising budget of special interest groups.
"Oftentimes these industry groups spend a lot pushing products," Franks
said. "When they were fighting the prescription drug bill, they spent so
much money against us. If I had the opportunity to counter I'd take the
Bill: Towns would get matching grants for fixes