Illinois is using emergency spending rules to upgrade the water system at the veterans’ home in Quincy. Outbreaks of the waterborne Legionnaires’ Disease have killed and sickened dozens of residents and staff.
The Department of Veterans’ Affairs is buying $650,000 worth of new water filters, faucets, and bacteria monitoring equipment. It calls the current water system a “danger to public health.”
By declaring the purchases “emergencies,” the state is bypassing normal spending safeguards, which can add months of public scrutiny.
The emergency spending comes after top officials in Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration defended the “quick” action they’d previously taken to prevent infections.
Those measures, however, did not prevent an outbreak this year. Altogether 13 residents have died and more than 60 others have been sickened by the waterborne illness.
The Rauner administration says it’ll eventually demolish and rebuild the dorms where the outbreaks occurred, but that could take up to five years.