Let's Not Wait Any Longer to Update Illinois' Plumbing Code

Plumbing codes set minimum requirements for the design and construction of the household fixtures and appliances we use everyday.  Their primary purpose is to protect public health and safety, but because they specify how many gallons of water should be used every time a toilet is flushed and how piping is installed that can reduce the wait for hot water, they can also be powerful drivers for greater energy and water efficiency. 

That's why NRDC and our partners worked with State Representative Carol Sente on legislation that would require the Department of Public Health to modernize the state's out-of-date plumbing code.  As a result of Rep. Sente's leadership, the Department undertook a rigorous stakeholder process, led by the Metropolitan Planning Council and including engineers, nonprofit organizations, architects, labor representatives and public officials.

The Department released a draft set of revisions for public comment last year.  While not perfect, the Department's draft updates the standards for energy efficient hot water distribution systems and plumbing fixtures. It includes safety standards to guide the voluntary use of systems to safely and sustainably re-use non-potable water. Ensuring that graywater and rainwater systems are properly installed not only protects public health, but it also encourages more widespread adoption of these technologies.

The Department is now waiting for the revisions to go through final review at the State's Joint Committee on Administrative Rules.  Let's hope the Department -- and Illinois residents -- don't have to wait much longer.  These key revisions to Illinois' plumbing code are critical to public health and safety, as well as to protecting Illinois' water supplies and opening up new markets. 

About the Authors

Karen Hobbs

Senior Policy Analyst, Water program

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